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The discussion below is reproduced with minor changes from idec.gr (work in progress)
No political system is exempt from corruption and in my opinion this outcome might even be somehow inexorable due to the nature of a state based polity. The difference between the European systems in particular but also, at the limit, the American one and those societies the US hypocritically claim as corrupt might be mainly based not on the extent of corruption, but on different types of corruption used. Partially this might be due to the fact that younger society which are still in formation exhibit more "primitive" types of corruption then societies which have already passed the middle-age period in their life cycle. Revolving door corruption is rampant in the USA, but not so popular in Russia, Iran and other "younger" countries. Old style bribes at the same time are more common in Russia, although in many cases they function not as bribe but as a kind of private insurance again prejudice/friction of the system: they help to prevent bias in the system or speed up processing of a request, but not materially affect outcome.
And to answer your question: "how to prevent the hijacking of public interest by state officials; protect the society form abuse of the possibility of extracting private benefit inherent in large power of the state official?"
But there is another aspect of corruption which is pretty modern in origin. The dominant Western perspective on "governance" failed to highlight the major source of corruption -- neoliberalism as a social system.
The neoliberal anti-corruption campaign served to hide the problems inherent in economic liberalization. It is variant of "blame the poor" (countries) line when instead of blaming neoliberal reforms themselves, neoliberals try to divert the attention from neoliberalism as a powerful force of enabling corruption by highlighting other contributing factors such as
Over recent years, IMF and World Bank have been promoting an artificially constructed discourse on corruption that separates it from its historic narrative -- the neoliberal political system under which it now flourish. They use pretty elaborate smoke screen designed to hide the key issues under the set of fuzzy terms such as "transparency", "accountability", "governance", "anticorruption initiatives". Ignoring the socio-political role of corruption of key mechanism of the neoliberal debt enslavement of peripheral nations (see Confessions of an Economic Hit Man - Wikipedia )
As Wikipedia points out there is no universally accepted definition of corruption. In this sense privatization might well be the most widespread type of corruption which occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity to sell government property for pennies on the dollar to local oligarchs of international companies. with delayed payment via the "revolving door" mechanism.
If we assume that corruption is 'illegitimate use of government power to benefit a private interest" then neoliberalism is the most corrupt social system imaginable.
But in neoliberal ideology only the state is responsible for corruption. The private sector under neoliberalism is immune of any responsibility. In reality it is completely opposite and state represents a barrier to private companies especially international sharks to get unfair advantage. And they can use the USA embassy as a source of pressure instead of bribing government officials. Neoliberals argues without any proof that if the market is let to function through its own mechanisms, and the role of state diminished to a minimum regulatory role, "good governance" could be realized and corruption be diminished. As US subprime crisis has shown this is untrue and destroys the stability of the economy.
Actually the term "governance" serves as the magical universal opener in neoliberal ideology. It is ideologically grounded up the narrative of previous mismanagement of economy ("blame the predecessor" trick).
This assumes the ideal economic sphere, in which players somehow get an equal opportunities automatically without regulatory role of the state and in case of peripheral nations without being strong armed by more powerful states. Under neoliberalism ethical responsibilities on players are reduced to the loyalty to contract.
Moreover antisocial behavior under liberalism is explicitly promoted (" greed is good") -- self-enrichment at the expense of others and society as a whole. Also the Western banks serve as a "treasure vault" for stolen money and Western states provides "safe heaven" for corrupt officials that face prosecution. At least this is true for Russian oligarchs when each crook automatically became "fighter for freedom" after landing in London airport and stolen money are indirectly appropriated by British state and never returned to Russia.
The USA is very similar. It likes to condemn corruption as but seldom returns that money stolen -- for example it never returned to Ukraine money stolen by Ukrainian Prime minister under President Kuchma Pavlo Lazarenko ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavlo_Lazarenko )
Moreover in neoliberal ideology only the state is responsible for corruption, private sector under neoliberalism is immune of any responsibility. In reality it is completely opposite and state represents a barrier to private companies attempts to get unfair advantage, for example by bribing government officials. Neoliberals argues without any proof that if the market is let to function through its own mechanisms, and the role of state diminished to a minimum regulatory role, "good governance" could be realized and corruption be diminished. As US subprime crisis has shown this is untrue and deregulation policies destroys the stability of the economy.
Actually the term "governance" serves as the magical universal opener in neoliberal ideology. It is ideologically grounded up in the narrative of previous mismanagement of economy ("blame the predecessor" trick). It also assumes the ideal economic sphere, in which players somehow get an equal opportunities automatically without regulatory role of the state. Ethical responsibilities on players are reduced to the loyalty to contract. Antisocial behaviour is explicitly promoted (" greed is good"). As Pope Francis noted
... Such an [neoliberal] economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.
54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naďve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.
No to the new idolatry of money
55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.
56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.
No to a financial system which rules rather than serves
57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside of the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs”.
58. A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and a return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.
No to the inequality which spawns violence
59. Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples is reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called “end of history”, since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.
60. Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. This serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.
Neoliberals limit ethical component to adhering to contracts. However, the contracts themselves might be corrupt, or it can be forces upon other party under duress. It is important to see all those trick neoliberals use and develop a critical stance towards the Western anti-corruption "crusade" of the last decade. At least disclose all the hypocrisy behind it. this is especially important as "corruption" serves as matches to flare up "color revolutions" -- a new war strategy of penetrating of international capital into peripheral countries.
The key neoliberal argument is that corruption is an obstacle to "good governance" and economic development. They never evaluate corruption within a wider ethical frame as for example Pope Francis does, not they discuss the implications of neoliberal reforms on social rights.
In ethics corruption refers to a domination of social relations by self-interest and to the perception of fellow citizens as instruments, obstacles or competitors. “In the morally corrupt society, civic virtue and social responsibility are displaced and discarded in favor of an intense competition for spoils.” In neoliberal thinking, however, the term is narrowly defined referring to the misuse of public office for private gain by bureaucrats, which is just a tip of the iseberg, because it is the other party -- powerful translational or local oligarchs who are buying those government officials.
Thus the drastic shift in in defining the term after the 1980s coincide with triumphant mach of neoliberalism over the world. While the state was supposed to produce public interest and common good before then, the emphasis shifted in the neoliberal era to the opportunities that public power provided for individual rent-seeking. This is harmonious with the assumptions of neoliberal approach to governance, which treats the state as an economic entity.
The notion of good governance under neoliberalism typically means market reforms and their political framework of deregulation and privatization. In reality both are cesspool of corruption. As the business started to build direct ties with the bureaucracy it automatically obtains a greater role in decision making, and as the capacity of the state to facilitate private personal rents in the market increased. So corruption served much to the restoration of the power of financial oligarchy under neoliberalism. Neoliberalism discard the necessity of national and planned development model of the Keynesian era in terms of facilitating and accelerating capital redistribution and accumulation, especially in transition economies. It is ironic that a neoliberal anti-corruption campaign led to tremendous level of corruption of privatization of industry in xUSSR countries and establishing (with direct help of the West) a strata of powerful, corrupt, often criminal and closely linked to the West oligarchs.
This, on the other hand, the notion of corruption under neoliberalism is conceptualized in such a way that trivialize the value of state intervention in the economy, discard any notion of public interest, and even of national priorities in politics. In order to reverse the neoliberal domination as the ideology it is important to stress the fact that under neoliberalism the whole the arena over which market competition occurred is corrupt. The players are not only unethical they are often criminal as recent investigation of TBTF banks had shown. This way is easier to bring ethics back into discussion of corruption and start to understand the without state interference it is impossible to have a fair market. Please note that neoliberals try to avoid discussion the notion of "fair market" substituting it with "free market" misnomer, which idealize the market as the sphere of voluntary action and freedom. In reality it is far from that and in unregulated market bigger players simply squash or swallow the small fish.
The neoliberal discourse on corruption is based on a certain set of assumptions about state-society relations and on a certain stance about the role of state in economy. As Pinar Bedirhanoğlu argues, “the neoliberal conception of corruption is ahistoric, biased, contradictory and politicized, and has been induced by concerns over market competition rather than morality.” This is because neoliberal conceptualization of corruption has fulfilled significant functions in globalized economy and politics, particularly at moments of financial crisis, such as the 1997 East Asian financial crisis and in Turkey after the 2001 crisis.
The neoliberal anti-corruption campaign served to hide the problems inherent in economic liberalisation and second generation of neoliberal reforms themselves by highlighting the so-called long history of crony state–business relations and patrimonial state in the South, referring either to the heritage of the ‘strong state tradition’ in Turkey, ‘the communist past’ in Russia, or the ‘corporatist past’ in Latin America.
Identifying corruption either with the inherent characteristics of bureaucrats and politicians (this way distorting the key idea of public administration -- providing service to the people) or traditional and cultural characteristics of certain regions helps idealizing the Western political and economic model under the name ‘good governance’. This approach also served for the world elites to partially overcome the legitimacy crisis that the Western states experienced since the 1980s by articulating the demand of democratic reforms ("export of democracy"), the language of "good governance", transparency, and building civil society (at the same time under this rhetoric destroying all the social achievements of welfare state). Using its dominance in MSM neoliberals manage to brainwash public to the extent it start behaving contrary to its own economic interests, and in the interests of financial oligarchy (What's the matter with Kansas)
Neoliberals stress that enlargement of market relations and reduction in state functions would provide not only economic efficiency but also freedom and democracy, by breaking up the monopolization of power. The market is accepted as the sphere of freedom since transactions within it are voluntary and decentralized. New Right theoreticians argue that freedom is the individual control over choices, and it is best exercised in a market economy.
By the 1970s neolibrals started to remove "the excesses of democracy" of New Deal and European Welfare states. Cosial reforms on New Deal era were condemned for the economic troubles during the decade, as was also the Keynesian economy o which they were based. Organized labour and mass movements were suppressed and as they deemed to be incompatible with unconstrained capitalist accumulation.
Keynesianism was blamed for expanding political decisions into the realm of economics, as if the desired non-political character of economy in not just another policy, just favoring big ploayers instead of small fish. It if such approach is not political. Welfare reforms came to be regarded as an anomaly, as an obstance to economic development. And crusing orgnized labour was presented as return to the normal distinction between economic and political spheres. However, the "de-economization" of politics under neoliebral was just a smoke screen decsined to hide accesnce to power of finacnial olitachy, the political force supressed by New Deal. So it was a countrrevolution not a revolution. And instead of promotion of democracy it resulted in promotion of authoritarianism ans police state (national Security State) were protection of financial olitarchy is disguied as "fight against terrorisrm". Public debate on the policy of taxation, privatization, on the forced retreat of state from social sectors, about the level of autonomy of Central Bank etc., was forcefully supressed.
So, to maintain the neolibel system the elites forcefully suppress and hide the relationship between economy and politics.
The term ‘governance’ started to be positively used by all parties to describe the political form of global market economy. It is defined as ‘governance without government’. Theories of governance argued that while government refers to formal acts and procedures at state level, governance is based on a network of informal relations at all levels. It assumes an interdependency between nations, between nations and international organizations, and between nations and transnational or subnational structures.
Governance aims at organizing the state and social life in general, along market relations. Even the state itself is dealt as if it is a business administration job. Politics is identified with corruption, nepotism, partisanship etc., and the parliamentarian and political party systems are regarded negatively as sources of populism, which harmed much the functioning of the economy.8
Making economic decisions turned out to be the job of technocrats, who were claimed to be neutral professionals applying the objective rules of the game called economy. Legislation and regulation are increasingly carried out by non-parliamentary and non-governmental agents. A neo-corporatist structure is developing in which interest groups and specialized policy networks represent themselves in a market-like sphere of politics. As expert knowledge “as opposed to popular, common-sensical, everyday knowledge” of the people tends to prevail, the democracy of citizens is being replaced by the democracy of organized interest and lobbies. So, as Jean Grugel states, globalisation
The neoliberal anticorruption campaign served to hide the problems inherent in economic liberalisation and second generation of neoliberal reforms themselves by highlighting the so-called long history of crony state – business relations and patrimonial state in the South. Governance are not neutral processes with regard to their effects on state and society.10 The neoliberal discourse on corruption should be dealt accordingly. According to the neoliberal approach state is regarded as “the simple sum of profit maximising bureaucrats and politicians”, and corruption is assumed to arise for the rents created by the holding of offices. It is perceived as if exploitation and corruption are intrinsic characteristics of the state itself rather than representing its abuse. The underlying state– market dichotomy has led to an understanding of corruption primarily as a problem of the state.11 Those corrupt actions which necessitate the existence of public power –the state- as one of the parties of a mutual relation, such as bribery or extortion are mostly emphasized in the literature. Fraud or embezzlement, on the other hand, can be found in the private sector as well. While control mechanisms and measures are regarded sufficient in the private sector and corruption cases are not related to the nature of the property ownership, the state cannot benefit from such an exemption. This cannot be evaluated independently from the neoliberal attack against public ownership. It is for certain that public power is manipulated to gain economic advantage but so is economic power in private sphere.
Neoliberal discourse assumes that corruption is a phenomenon of the public sector. This interpretation “obscures the rising possibilities for private sector corruption caused by market-led economic reforms and has little to say about the complex linkages between abuses in the private and public sectors”.
Neoliberals regard the public sector as the major source of corruption, which is explained through the rent-seeking behaviour of individual public servants. This is based upon highly questionable conceptualizations of human motivation and a very poor understanding of the state. Their major objective is limited to explaining how the activities of public servants distort the efficient functioning of markets.
Ed Brown and Jonathan Cloke counter the view that the state is inherently more prone to corruption than the private sector. They argue that this, for example, leads to a lack of recognition of the opportunities for corruption that privatization and deregulation have provided. Even the World Bank accepts that transition to market economy has created fertile ground for corruption.
Since neoliberal discourse has a very limited conceptual understanding of the nature and functioning of the state and its relation to civil society, there appears certain inconsistencies. For example the writers refer to contradiction between the creation of new public bodies within institutional reform programmes and the assumption that public officials are primarily motivated by self-interest, and they question the hidden assumption that the workers within those anti-corruption offices were likely to be less corrupt than other public sector workers claimed to be naturally prone to rent-seeking behaviour.
Putting “public sector corruption as the most severe impediment to development and growth”, and moreover, claiming such things that bribery “distorts sectoral priorities and technology choices (by, for example, creating incentives to contract for large defence projects rather than rural health clinics specializing in preventive care)” is unfair and misleading. Corrupt behaviour is not limited to state officials; idealizing private sector actions while attacking state sector is at best naive. It is impossible to deny the motives for unethical behaviour in private sector and it is claimed that even the economic liberalization after 1980s, pointed as the solution of corruption problems, opened the path of corporate corruptions.
Since 1990s anti-corruption agenda has been promoted in developing countries through the reform programmes of the international financial institutions. It is not easy to determine whether an overall increase in corruption led to the anti-corruption campaign. Critical studies highlight the instrumentalization of anti-corruption discourse. Ed Brown and Jonathan Cloke argue that there was little reliable evidence to determine if corruption levels had been worsening or whether there has simply been increasing legal and public recognition of corruption cases or perhaps even the conscious manipulation of public sensitivity about the issue.
The example of Turkey is worth mentioning. Coming to the office to recover Turkish economy after the Keynesianism was blamed for expanding political decisions into the realm of economics, as if the desired non-political character of economy was not something political. (14 Ibid., p 287-91 and P. Bedirhanoğlu, “The Neoliberal Discourse on Corruption as a Means of Consent) 2001 financial crisis, Minister of Economic Affairs, now the UNDP President Kemal Derviş, have then explained the causes of the crisis with reference to the corrupt banking structure in Turkey and skilfully introduced the neoliberal discourse that associates anti-corruption porely with failures of the implementation of the neoliberal reforms.
Through this discourse, neoliberal institutionalisation in Turkey which had been proceeding back and forth because of the resistance of various social forces for about a decade accelerated. Since this competition-induced concern over corruption was articulated within the moral based debates in domestic politics, the strategy received public consent.
The international ‘crusade’ against corruption does not fight with corruption itself but in the first place “promotes commerce, uniformity in commercial law and the associated disciplines of the market as indirect constraints on the conduct of states themselves”. In this respect, Barry Hindess regards the international anti-corruption campaign labelled as the promotion of good governance as an updated version of the older system of capitulations, which required independent states to acknowledge the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Western states in the area of commercial law.
Many scholars underline the conscious attempt of neoliberals to use corruption as a strategy for enabling neoliberal policies and try to demonstrate the consequences or by-products of international anti-corruption campaign of the last decade. One of those consequences is the strengthening of executive power and the growing role of international financial institutions. To overcome this problems that undermine state legitimacy, politics of civil society is gradually articulated in the campaign.
Despite their anti-state stance neoliberals are well aware of the continuing functions of state as a coercive and legitimizing body in regulating society. A central role is attached to the state in the launching of anticorruption policies. Pinar Bedirhanoğlu describes this as “to put the foxes in charge of the chicken house if it is recalled that corruption is assumed to be intrinsic to the state in rentier state theories”. To balance the state and prevent it from following a national program external pressure imposed by international financial institutions, NGOs, private sector, autonomous regulatory agencies, regional development agencies is applied. Rent-creation capacity of these bodies are usually disregarded. Practical monopoly of technical expertise makes such institutions extremely powerful and unaccountable.
As to the NGOs, in our case to those fighting against corruption, the question below is worth asking: “Can NGOs and similar organizations really help socialize citizens into the system, or do they rather represent a means by which citizens abdicate responsibility for active citizenship, and leave responsibility for political engagement with NGO staff?”.
Demet Dinler states that anti-corruption measures were functional in the redefinition of the relationship between the economic and the political. They emerged as a legitimating mechanism to justify market reforms and the separation of the economic from the political, because the ‘failure’ of the first generation reforms we explained by the continuing dominance of the political over the economic. “Corruption has been conceptualized as a ‘purely political’ phenomenon, related only to the politicians and their bureaucratic companions, by ignoring the major role of the businessmen in corruption and rentseeking.”
While the neoliberal concern on corruption is market-based and competition-induced at the international level, the domestic debates on corruption rest on moral grounds. This, according to Pınar Bedirhanoğlu, indicate different attitudes of capital and popular classes towards corruption. That of the latter seems to provide a more political ground. Corruption is undoubtedly harmful to the public interest through whatever medium we build the relation. However, it would be in vain to expect that the funds “rescued from the grasp of the corrupt public servant or politician” will be spent on good causes, such as education or health facilities for the poor.
The discourse of governance reduces morality to the loyalty to contract. However, we argue that the contract itself might be corrupt, if corruption is defined in ethical terms as the public opinion perceives it. The next part of the study will deal with the collapse of welfare policies and the transformation of labor market in this framework.
A neoliberals also develop , cultivate and support interest groups and specialized policy networks which promotes neoliberalism and separation of politics and economics.
In the aftermath of the depression, the WWII and Keynesian revolution, the state actively intervened into the economy, helping to manage the conflicts arising from market competition In terms of its institutional and policy role, social provision was central to accumulation, helping to socialize consumption over the life-course and the reproduction of labor power. The success of the consolidation and expansion of welfare systems in virtually every Western country from 1950 through the early 1970s had two profound consequences for the political economy of welfare systems today. First, any attack on or defense of a welfare system must now operate along three distinct, yet interrelated, spheres: the economic, political and the cultural. Second, with welfare systems so successfully integrated into the institutional make-up of nations, the politics of welfare encompass far more than political wheeling and dealing over national budgets. Although expenditure levels remain important, the politics of welfare are increasingly about a nation’s class, racial, generational, and gender divisions. As an object of struggle and conflict, then, welfare politics reflect the interest of myriad social forces, such as employers’ associations, poverty groups, small business, social movements, and trade unions. Recent conflict over welfare systems has been intense, with government action from above and recipient reaction from below being very contentious.
However, both the ‘Golden Age’ of capitalism and the ‘Golden Age’ of social reforms came to an end with the worldwide economic slump of 1974-82, a crisis which covered two distinct generalized recessions separated by a weak recovery. In a long and drawn out process, the 1974-82 economic slump led to a new consensus in economic policy across the advanced capitalist economies. In the early 1980s, a neoliberals started a real offensive with the distinct goals of engineering an economic recovery and restoring profitability by redistributing the wealth up.
In altering the parameters of state intervention, neoliberalism rejected and turned away from the post-war reliance on the social right and more fair distribution of the results of economic activity. The return of mass unemployment, industrial downsizing, the liberalization of capital flows and a rearticulating of hegemony of financial capital all changed the terrain of capitalist relations, destroying the post-war accord between the capital and labor. Through neoliberalism coercive redistribution of wealth up started in full force. The emerging stage of ‘transnational capitalism’ is marked by high levels of capital mobility and economic integration between countries (some reduced to supplies of raw materials, like in classic neocolonialism) and defined by capital’s interaction with multiple states and an intensification of international competition. In this new political economic context, welfare systems are facing a number of transformatory pressures, including the erosion of government autonomy over social provision, integration induced convergent welfare effects and welfare system rivalry.
Neoliberal transformation of society put strong downward pressure on welfare systems. Apart from weakening organized labor outright, neoliberalism targets the economic, social and political costs of welfare. As John O’Connor argues for most of the 1990s, welfare systems in the advanced capitalist countries were the object of intense conflict between employers and workers. Governments fought hard to cut the cost of pensions, health care and benefit payments, while unions struggled to protect their longstanding social gains.26 In reshaping welfare systems, employers have been seeking to lower costs, improve labor market flexibility and reduce budget deficits. This is all being done to further international competitiveness and to help restore profitability. Defensive struggles over welfare systems have not been able to stop the retrenchment of social provision. Governments have embarked also on strategies of shifting the role of public and private sector via massive privatization of state assets, in which the private sector acquired public sector assets (as well as responsibilities and activities at discounted prices. Neoliberal policies resulted in globalization of capital and goods flows. It also led to mass outsourcing / off-shoring of whole industries to third world countries. The capability of swashing the cost of labor has been an important factor for multinational corporations. That is why reducing the cost of labor has been a major area by developing countries to compete against each other. Instead of permanent employment neoliberalism prefers the part-time labor / contractor economy, were employees have not social rights and minimal social protection.
There is a growing sense that social policies are taking new directions as policy debates move from an earlier embrace of privatization and marketization, to the task of retooling the state to face new social risks and to reproduce the social (social cohesion, social capital, social inclusion, social economy).27 Welfare system today have been openly scrutinized and challenged by Neoliberal approaches have regarded the public sector as the major source of corruption, which is explained through the rentseeking behaviour of individual public servants, politicians, employers, citizens, and tax payers as never before in the vast majority of Western nations. The roots of this scrutiny and challenge have been the subject of much political and scholarly debate. As economic globalisation has progressed, nation states have forfeited sovereignty to supra-national organizations and treaties, such as the Group of Seven, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the European Union (EU) and the North American Free Trade Union (NAFTA). These agencies and Organisations represent a complicated shift in political economic governance from the domestic level toward the supranational.29 With trans-state accumulation, there has been a move within many nations to move from ‘discretionary-based’ to ‘rule-based’ policy making.
This move toward rules is an attempt to implement mechanisms that automatically force domestic policy to reflect the changes associated with the global economy; e.g., the EU, the WTO, the IMF or World Bank.
Welfare retrenchment is sold to the public in terms of it being more a dictate of rules or logic of the global economy. Welfare systems are viewed now as national luxuries that cannot be afforded in the global economy. Given the enhanced exit options in today’s world, the political relationship among capital, the state and welfare coalitions have been recast. Capital mobility – or the threat of capital mobility – has the effect of forcing workers/unions and welfare coalitions into making concessions.31 Because capital is mobile, it can take an extremely aggressive stance in wage bargaining or in political negotiations. Trans-state accumulation has enhanced the power of capital, while leaving labour and welfare coalitions politically impotent. In addition to the usual concern over immigration, unemployment and population aging, it is obvious that governments in Europe and North America point to the pressures of economic globalisation as being one of the main reasons behind social cutbacks.
This offensive against the public sector in general and social systems in particular is universal and the language of globalisation has been central to this neoliberal assault.
As with the recasting of class relations, remaking the mode of production and reorganizing accumulation, neoliberalism seeks to restructure labour markets, making them more responsive to competitive forces. The integration of domestic economies has opened the door to welfare system social dumping effects, in which the benefits and services in one country are lowered the ward off any potential competitive disadvantages relative to another.32 Social dumping effects reflect governments’ concern that high ‘social cost’ will undermine a nation’s international competitiveness.
Given the rapid changes in the world market and the intensification of competition, an adaptable workforce and flexibility in the hiring and firing of workers are considered valuable economic assets. In general terms, economic flexibility can refer to the ability of capitalist enterprises to adjust their productive strategies, the ability of workers to move from one job to another and the ability of wage levels to move according to prevailing economic conditions.33
The early 1980s employers’ offensive was launched to restore profitability. neoliberal transformative action aimed to reorder post-war capitalism’s structural and institutional arrangements. This neoliberal reordering unleashed the economic transforming tendencies of state rationalisation, market contestability, and factor mobility (‘coercive competition’) on all nations. The importance of coercive competition is that it simultaneously acted on and transcended domestic institutional-policy frameworks.
In this new political economic context, domestic social systems faced a number of transformatory pressures, including the erosion of government autonomy over social provision, integration induced convergent welfare effects, and welfare system rivalry. The prime source of retrenchment pressures was that the mobile capital has an aversion to anything that contributes to competitive locational disadvantage. These pressures were dealt with politically determines the nature and scope of welfare system retrenchment. It is obvious that the explanation of globalisation has become a force “helping to create the institutional realities it purportedly merely describes.”34 Recent welfare practice reflects discursive practices that communicate an “apolitical logic of inevitabilism” that rules out all alternatives to globalisation and welfare retrenchment.35
The early 1980s employers’ offensive was launched to restore profitability. Neoliberal transformative action aimed to reorder post-war capitalism’s structural and institutional arrangements.
As a political strategy neoliberalism tries to restore profitability at the expense of social well-being of population. the problem of corruption is used as smoke screen for penetration into third world countries and for extracting raw materials at low, globalised prices. Through such organizations as WTO a global market was created where raw materials prices are nearly same in the world and goods can flow globally without borders and customs . This situation transforms the world economies into an open market and also open production islands not just for goods also for services also. That is why the competition continues over labor costs where states can still compete over. This competition made the governments cut out welfare expenditures to reduce costs of production.
Through this neoliberal transformative action and discourse states are eliminating workers post-war social gains and social protections such as guaranteed pension, health care and benefit payments. This is done to improve labor market flexibility and reduce budget deficits. Apart from weakening labor rights, neoliberalism also redistributes wealth by eliminating high taxes to upper brackets of population, reducing the cost of welfare and privatizing those saving by financial sector.
Neoliberalism creates "race to the bottom" -- a competition between developing countries in reducing the cost of labor and also generates an informal economy without any social rights of labor. Finally both capital mobility and economic integration have undermined the ability of national governments to pursue welfare objectives.
We should label the behaviour of perceiving social rights as a competitiveness tool rather than a means for meeting vital needs of humans a corrupt behaviour. So corruption is an immanent feature of neoliberalism. That sort of normative questions raised by pope Francis helps to understand deeper the role of corruption in the neoliberal society. In will not be exaggeration to say the neoliberal society is based on corruption. In other words, by redefinition corruption in terms of domination of social relations by self-interest, and regarding of fellow citizens as instruments, obstacles and competitors, we get deeper understanding of problem of corruption and related straggle against it the neoliberal era. That seems the best possible to fight corruption under neoliberalism is to fight neoliberal policies and to remembrance the ideas of New Deal which provided better the integrity of the economic and the political like of the society.
Apr 22, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
im1dc , April 21, 2019 at 12:26 PMInterior Secty Bernhardt is corrupt...he's gotta go and right now
He corrupted the Interior Dept by violating his Ethics Agreement banning his participation with his former Lobbyist clients until 8/18
"Interior's Bernhardt worked closely on matters he promised to avoid"
'New disclosures of the secretary's schedule add to questions surrounding his ties to past lobbying clients, including a California water district'
By ANNIE SNIDER...04/21/2019...06:57 AM EDT
"Interior Secretary David Bernhardt began working on policies that would aid one of his former lobbying clients within weeks of joining the Trump administration, according to a POLITICO analysis of agency documents -- a revelation that adds to the ethics questions dogging his leadership of the agency.
Bernhardt's efforts, beginning in at least October 2017, included shaping the department's response to a key portion of a water infrastructure law he had helped pass as a lobbyist for California farmers, recently released calendars show. The department offered scant details at the time about meetings that Bernhardt, then the deputy secretary, held with Interior officials overseeing water deliveries to the farmers, leading many observers to believe he was steering clear of the issues he had previously lobbied on.
But newly disclosed schedule "cards" prepared by Interior officials for Bernhardt show more than three dozen meetings with key players on California water issues, including multiple lengthy meetings on specific endangered species protections at the heart of his previous work. Those appointments were only vaguely identified on his official calendars.
Interior's inspector general is probing whether Bernhardt violated ethics rules by working on policies he had pushed as a lobbyist for the Westlands Water District, a job that earned his former firm more than $1.3 million in the five years before he returned to government service.
Bernhardt's ethics agreement barred him from participating in any "particular matters" involving Westlands until August 2018, one year after he arrived at the agency, and it was only after that recusal period ended that then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke publicly tasked him with working on California water issues. But the newly released information shows that Bernhardt had weighed in on discussions around Westlands' policy priorities for nearly a year by that point."...
Apr 22, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , April 20, 2019 at 09:23 AMElizabeth Warren calls for impeachmentilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs... , April 20, 2019 at 11:11 AM
proceedings against President Trump
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/04/19/elizabeth-warren-calls-for-impeachment-proceedings-against-president-trump/yWVMo0TSkBeuYDSSeBuP5L/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe
Danny McDonald - April 19, 2019
Senator Elizabeth Warren on Friday called for lawmakers to start impeachment proceedings against President Trump, saying he obstructed Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Warren became the first of the Democratic presidential candidates to unambiguously call for impeachment proceedings. Most senior Democrats in Congress have stopped far short of it following the delivery of Mueller's 448-page report.
"The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty,'' the Massachusetts Democrat said on Twitter. "That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States."
Also Friday, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena for an unredacted version of Mueller's report as Congress escalates its investigation. Trump and other Republicans dismissed the report's findings.
The redacted version of Mueller's report details multiple efforts Trump made to curtail a Russia probe he feared would cripple his administration. While Mueller declined to recommend that Trump be prosecuted for obstruction of justice, he did not exonerate the president, all but leaving the question to Congress.
The report stated, "If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she doesn't support impeachment without bipartisan backing because it would be too divisive for the nation She signaled she wanted the House to continue to fulfill its constitutional oversight role.
''We believe that the first article -- Article 1, the legislative branch -- has the responsibility of oversight of our democracy, and we will exercise that,'' she said in Belfast on Friday.
Representative Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said, ''It now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct and to decide what steps we must take going forward.'' He expects the Justice Department to comply by May 1.
On Twitter Friday, Warren said the report "lays out facts showing that a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election to help Donald Trump and Donald Trump welcomed that help. Once elected, Donald Trump obstructed the investigation into that attack."
She said Mueller "put the next step in the hands of Congress," adding in another tweet that "[t]o ignore a President's repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways."
According to a Warren aide, the senator started to read the Mueller report Thursday during a plane ride back to Boston following campaign stops in Colorado and Utah.
Warren, according to the aide, felt it was her duty to say what she thought after reading the report but does not plan to emphasize impeachment on the campaign trail.
Mary Anne Marsh, a Boston-based Democratic strategist who is not connected to any presidential campaign, said Warren has been the first Democratic candidate to stake out numerous policy stances during the campaign. Her impeachment statement will force everyone else running for president to take a position, Marsh said.
"More often than not the field is reacting to her positions," she said.
Warren's call for impeachment proceedings, Marsh said, "shows she's willing to lead."
"She's willing to make the hard calls," Marsh said.
After the Mueller report's release, Trump pronounced it ''a good day'' and tweeted ''Game Over.'' Top Republicans in Congress saw vindication in the report as well. On Friday, Trump was even more blunt, referring to some statements about him in the report as "total bullshit."
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy said it was time to move on and said Democrats were attempting to ''vilify a political opponent.'' The California lawmaker said the report failed to deliver the ''imaginary evidence'' incriminating Trump that Democrats had sought. ...
Now, liberals are pressing the House to begin impeachment hearings, and the issue is cropping up on the presidential campaign trail.
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a Democrat who is running for president, was asked Friday if Trump should be impeached as he made an appearance at a Stop & Shop union picket line in Malden .
"I think that Congress needs to make that decision," he said. "I think he may well deserve it, but my focus, since I'm not part of Congress, but I am part of 2020, is to give him a decisive defeat at the ballot box, if he is the Republican nominee in 2020."
On Friday, Julián Castro, a former housing secretary running for the Democratic nomination, said he thought "it would be perfectly reasonable'' for Congress to open impeachment proceedings.
Senator Kamala Harris, a California Democrat who is running for president, told MSNBC on Thursday that she also thinks Mueller should testify. When asked about impeachment proceedings, she told that outlet, "I think that there's definitely a conversation to be had on that subject, but first I want to hear from Bob Mueller."
Cory Booker, the New Jersey senator running for president, was asked about impeachment during a campaign trip to Nevada. Specifically in regard to impeachment, he said, ''There's a lot more investigation that should go on before Congress comes to any conclusions like that.''
In the House, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is now signed on to an impeachment resolution from fellow Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
But senior leaders remain cool to the idea.
Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the number two in the House Democratic leadership, told CNN on Thursday, "Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point." However, Hoyer quickly revised his comments, saying "all options are on the table."Let the impeachment circus begin.
We need to get to the bottom of a special counsel calling the president a "criminal" having gotten no indictments!
Let each topic be examined and witnesses deposed in the house live on C-SPAN! With questions from both sides.
There will be only take one vote in the senate to fail, but we need to get to the bottom of Mueller's untoward remarks in the report.
From the little I read it seems the report, in tone at least, despises fact and is politically motivated.
Apr 21, 2019 | angrybearblog.com
FincaInTheMountains April 20, 2019 at 10:17 am #James Hansen April 20, 2019 at 10:47 am #
Elizabeth Warren is beginning the calls impeachment. Time to clean the Augean stables
Elizabeth Warren managed to fail a DNA test, for crying out loud. How one could possibly do that?elysianfield April 20, 2019 at 11:17 am #
She did not fail a DNA test, she was told that she was part American Indian by her family which turned out to be not true. Big fucking deal!
She created the Consumer Protection Agency which is a great accomplishment for the American people.
Can you name one thing the Republicans have done for the middle class that comes close to what she did?malthuss April 20, 2019 at 11:41 am #
"Can you name one thing the Republicans have done for the middle class that comes close to what she did?"
Uhhhh, War on Drugs comes to mind. Might have kept the barbarians from the gates for a few decades and provided for a lot of living wage jobs.James Hansen April 20, 2019 at 1:51 pm #
Big fucking deal! yes it is a big deal, dummy.
a real big deal.
The horrors of AA (Affirmative Action) compounded by cheating.hmuller April 21, 2019 at 11:39 am #
I think the ancestry scandal is about as important as wearing white pants after Labor day.
You are far too partisan, you ignore the creation of the CPA and all the benefits it give the public when Republicans at this very moment are looking to loosen the Pay Day Loan lending rules.
I guess a 1400% interest rate is just not enough, do you support the loan sharks and rip off banks? Yes or No.
What does Alcoholics Anonymous have to do with Elizabeth Warren?benr April 20, 2019 at 12:24 pm #
By AA he meant Affirmative Action, not Alcoholics Anonymous. Although people with lots of Native American DNA often have drinking problems. prudence would dictate "don't sell whiskey and guns to Elizabeth Warren."Janos Skorenzy April 20, 2019 at 12:39 pm #
Look at the spin machine in action. She used the benefits of lying about her American Indian ancestry to further her career and derive perks. We all know it. AA is a joke and utter reverse racism in action.James Hansen April 20, 2019 at 2:08 pm #
No, she kept pushing it even to the point of claiming that her genetic result of 1/1024 Indian proved her claim. The lack of judgement -- both technical and political -- is simply astounding. Then she apologized to the Cherokee for pretending to be one of them since she doesn't meet the tribal criterion. To my knowledge she has never back off her claim beyond that -- and never apologized to Whites for trying to get out of OUR Tribe, the one she was born into.Janos Skorenzy April 20, 2019 at 2:16 pm #
I always try to look at the big picture, the whole episode was foolish but she harmed no one and gained nothing.
Has she pushed the anti Russian crap? That would bother me as we have been the aggressor with Russia and that is really dangerous.
As we speak nuclear armed bombers are flying daily close the the Russian borders and Russia has to scramble jets to ward them off. One pissed off Russian fighter pilot and there goes the world!James Hansen April 20, 2019 at 5:40 pm #
She is pushing for criminalizing White Nationalism -- as if We aren't persecuted enough already. Foolishness to the nth degree. Whites have been amazing passive as their Nation has been stolen from them. And those who make peaceful change impossible ..
Dude, she's a monster. Another Hillary Clinton.hmuller April 21, 2019 at 11:42 am #
Now you are exaggerating, nobody is as disgusting as Hillary.
James Hansen, at last you said something I can fully agree with:
"nobody is as disgusting as Hillary."
Apr 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
bevin , Apr 17, 2019 9:13:07 AM | link
Craig Murray has a piece on this today. There is nothing very new in what he writes but he sees the significance of this story, which is not about ducks or children or Donald Trump's personality but a concerted and thorough campaign, carried out largely by British state actors, to deepen the 'west's' isolation of Russia.
The real story of both the Cold War and the continually recurring propaganda stories about the "millions" of "victims of communism" is that the Soviet Union was manipulated throughout its history by capitalist control over the international economy. Like a demonic organist capitalist governments pulled out all the stops to control the moods and the policies of a state that the Bolsheviks never did get to rule.
In the end the Politburo gave in and did what the 'west' had always been wanted which is to hand over the country, lock, stock and population to the cannibals of capital.
The result being what was probably, after the 1930-45 war, the largest kill off of Russians in modern history: Yeltsin plus Harvard Business School being responsible for many more deaths than even the intoxicated propagandist Robert Conquest ever dreamed of.
It is that total control over Russia, through the manipulation of its economy, and the direction of its capitalists, that is behind the long series of sanctions, which are being added to every day: their purpose is to re-invent Yeltsinism, re-empower the Fifth Column in the Kremlin, and, in a stroke, re-establish the inevitable and eternal hegemony of the Washington centered Empire.
In this work the assistance of the 'cousins'in MI6 and GCHQ, plus the entire British military establishment has been crucial in a period in which the subservience of POTUS to the Deep State was, thanks to the underestimation of his electoral chances, very much in question. During a period in which Trump had to be tamed and brought under control the UK Establishment's assistance in coming up with a series of highly publicised interventions was crucia l.
Lysias points out that Haspel had acted as the CIA's Head of Station in London in 2016. It was in London that the entire "Russiagate" nonsense was put together, with British based actors continually prodding Congress, the media and the Democrats to act on revelations regarding Papadopolous, Mifsud, Stefan Halper.Skripal was just one more effort to tighten sanctions against Putin's allies in the Russian oligarchy and isolate Trump from foreign policy initiatives not approved by the Deep State. The significance of the NY Times story, then, is that, inadvertently it reinforces the reality that in the matter of Russiagate and Trump all roads lead to London, the Tory Establishment, which has been living off US-Russian tensions for seventy years and security agencies doing what the CIA cannot do for itself.
Mar 19, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com
Before Gina became the Chief of Staff for Rodriguez, what role did she play in the waterboarding of two AQ operatives in Thailand? It appears that she was at least witting of what was going on. Did she have the authority to decide what measures to apply to the two? Did she make such decisions?
Those are facts still to be determined. I am inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt. But there are others who I respect that are adamant in opposing her nomination. The only thing I know for sure is that her nomination will be a bloody and divisive political battle. If it comes down to embracing waterboarding as an appropriate method to use on suspected terrorists, then a majority of Americans are supportive of that practice and will cheer the appointment of Haspel.
That fact is a very sad and disturbing commentary on what America is or has become. Tolerating torture and excusing such an activity in the name of national security is the same justification that Stalin and Castro employed to punish dissidents. It is true that one man's terrorist is another woman's freedom fighter.
Let me be clear about my position. If Gina was in fact the Chief of Base and oversaw the application of the waterboarding and other inhuman treatment then she lacks the moral authority to head the CIA. Unfortunately, the United States has a long history of overlooking human rights violations and war crimes.
Students of WW II will recall that US military intelligence recruited and protect Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyon, as an asset after the war. He murdered Jews and sent others to Auschwitz. He should have been hung. Instead, we turned a blind eye and gave him a paycheck.
Cee , 18 March 2018 at 12:55 PMPT,steve , 18 March 2018 at 01:11 PM
I've read that she enjoyed torture and mocked a prisoner who was drooling by accused him of faking it. I never knew anything about her sexual orientation but now I have to consider if she's so cruel because she hates men.
No to her confirmation.IIRC, Haspel was the chief of staff to whom Rodriguez refers. That does not sound like a bit player. Would you say that Kelly is a bit player in the Trump admin? As you say, we should know the facts, but so far it looks like she both participated in torture and in its cover-up.tv , 18 March 2018 at 01:11 PM
SteveIs waterboarding "torture?" It does not draw blood nor leave any physical damage. Psychological damage? These ARE admitted terrorists.BillWade , 18 March 2018 at 01:20 PMWith all the crap going on at the FBI, the last thing we need now is a divisive candidate for any top level government position (torture advocacy is divisive for many of us).Publius Tacitus -> tv... , 18 March 2018 at 01:23 PM
A woman, a lesbian, who cares as long as they are a capable and decent law-abiding individual.Yes, waterboarding is torture. We considered it so egregious that we prosecuted Japanese military officers after WWII for using it on POWs.Apenultimate said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 March 2018 at 01:26 PM
And where do you get "admitted" terrorists from? In America, even with suspected terrorists, there is the principle of innocent until proven guilty. At least we once believed in that standard.And I very much respect you for your position on this (it is this American's view as well).Laura , 18 March 2018 at 01:42 PM
What amazes me (and yet doesn't) is the example of Rodriguez's supposed introspection "How bad could this be?" Really?!? That just strikes me as not having any feel for the media, US citizenry, or even common sense, and just reinforces the feeling that those at the upper echelons are completely out of touch or alternatively are just lying/posturing to present themselves in a better light.PT -- Thank you. Much to consider in these times. I come down on the "no torture and waterboarding is torture" side of the debate but am also just eager for some competence and professional experience in key positions.Kooshy , 18 March 2018 at 01:42 PM
That these positions may be mutually exclusive says a great deal about our current situation. Again, thank you, for your opinions and information.A torturer is a torturer, no matter how one try to glaze it, or sugar coat it. If one is against torture, or the fancy name for it EIT, one should come out and say it like it is. This lady is accused of torturing captives ( enemy combatant) that can't and will not go away unless she come clean.
At the end of the day that don't matter, since as a policy, and base on your own statement, this country's government will prosecut and punish for liking of torture but not torture and tortures. And, furthermore, is not even willing to do away with it, per it's elected president. Trying to show a clean, moral, democracy on the hilltop image, is a BS and a joke.
Apr 14, 2019 | www.theguardian.com
popgoesthepop , 12 Apr 2019 10:26Four more years of Trump is in the works.jae426 -> gunnison , 12 Apr 2019 10:26
The fact that she lied about her ethnicity in the past in hopes of gaining a leg up will backfire spectacularly if she's the DNC nominee for POTUS. Conservatives will beat this point over and over and over.
Is the Left secretly trying to put Trump in the WH for another term? It sure looks like it.Thomas1178 -> Sheldon Hodges , 12 Apr 2019 10:25
the chances that Dems supporting a candidate who does not win the primary would boycott the election and put Trump back in the White House are vanishingly small this time around
They were warned that that would happen last time, and they still let it happen. The "Bernie bros" are back out in force, and not only have they not learnt their lesson, they feel validated by Clinton's defeat to the extent where they are even more determined that their old man should be the candidate and nobody else. These are people who abandoned the Democrats for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate who managed to make Sarah Palin look intelligent. They will do it again because they are largely white, male and think just because they read liberal newspapers that means they don't have a sense of entitlement.
Both Michigan and Pennsylvania would have gone to Clinton if only 20% of Green voters hadn't lodged protest votes. These people don't want Elizabeth Warren, they don't want Kamala Harris, they don't want Beto O'Rourke, they don't want Pete Buttigieg. They want Bernie. If Bernie isn't the Democrat, they won't vote Democrat.
You can dismiss this as much as you like, but I placed a bet on Trump winning the Republican nomination when he was the joke candidate and when he won the nomination I bet on him winning the presidency. I think that would be an even safer bet this time round.That's just funny. She's been behind some of the major legislation that enacted the things that Bernie Sanders talks about. And Wall Street is scared crapless of her -- why do you think they're going after her so hard?popgoesthepop -> WishesandHorses , 12 Apr 2019 10:23She lies about her ethnicity to get ahead in life? That may have something to do with it.Sheldon Hodges , 12 Apr 2019 10:22This conjecture is entirely fiction at best but centrist neo libeberal bollocks as a certainty. Warren was and is a republican. She is a corporate bootlicker, a thrall of Hillary and has no serious attachment to truth. I regret to admit that I am a US citizen, 68 years of age. I have wittnessed Warren's shameless plagirising of Bernie Sanders' arguments and am sickened to see her lionized by people who, if honest, should know better.Thomas1178 , 12 Apr 2019 10:21The columnist is right about Warren's intellectual stature and influence, and anyone who's looked at what she's accomplished for Massachusetts (or for that matter watched her takedown of the sleazy head of Wells Fargo during the Senate hearings) knows she's tough. She also has a *workable* vision of what the Democrats could offer Americans. From affordable childcare to making college tuition affordable again to helping out working-class people like the fisherman in Massachusetts, while reigning in the banks and making sure we don't have another crash – it's the blueprint.Patrician1985 , 12 Apr 2019 10:21
There's something hysterically funny about all the people who have signed in here, clearly skipped the article, just to yell "squirrel!" – or in this case -- "oh no she filled out the optional ethnicity box and it turns out her family stories were mistaken!"
What they're missing, what Warren is laying out and the article is pointing out, is what the GOP will really be up against in the future.I don't like this argument: she may not win the primary, but it's her ideas that will dominate the conversation.SolentBound , 12 Apr 2019 10:21
It worked for Bernie supporters to console themselves.
If we elect someone, it needs to be the person who will be passionate about that idea (as opposed to lukewarm like Pelosi is on Green New Deal). We need someone who knows what it will take to get it done. What will get in the way. How to get around it.
Warren not only had the idea for CFPB. She actually set it up. Then Obama lacked the moral courage and political spine to have her lead the agency - just because Wall Street had pressured the Democrats against it.
Warren is the right candidate for the right time. She has ideas to fix the country and doesn't just rail against people. That's why even Steve Bannon is scared of her policy positions that they could be theirs.
Democrats need to stop playing pundits and go with their heart. If they vote for someone they like less but because he (why is it always a 'he' who is electable?) can win - we will end up with a candidate no one really cares about and how is that a winning strategy?Democrat primary voters need to recognise that defeating Trump is going to be very difficult.JayThomas -> Rio de Janeiro , 12 Apr 2019 10:20
Since WW II, only Jimmy Carter and George Bush Sr. have failed to win re-election, in both cases to superb campaigners who captured the public's imagination and, critically, swing voters.
Which of the potential Democrat challengers is a Ronald Reagan or a Bill Clinton? Or, indeed, a Barack Obama?
For a dose of reality, Democrats could do worse than read Mike Bloomberg's piece on his decision to stay out of the race: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-03-05/our-highest-office-my-deepest-obligationAnd because nobody expects a politician to keep a promise, they have to find some other way to be convincing.BenjaminW , 12 Apr 2019 10:19Warren rules -- her policy ideas are creative, intelligent and moral, and the world would be an indescribably better place if people like her were ever allowed into positions of authority. That anyone on the planet would prefer to be represented by someone like Biden, never mind Trump, is utterly depressing.charlieblue , 12 Apr 2019 10:16Sadly, FOX News has already issued their proscribed talking points on Sen.Warren. You will find them listed and repeated anywhere Elizabeth's Warren's candidacy is discussed (including here). Most of it will be lies or exaggerations, claims that she received jobs and promotions based on her claims of Native American ancestry, claims that she received scholarships or some kind of preferential treatment by calling herself an "Indian". They will insist that this is an obvious character flaw, that she's a liar and some sort of cultural thief.Rio de Janeiro , 12 Apr 2019 10:13
Sadly, too many American's still imagine FOX News and it's ilk are purveyors of fact. They imagine the propaganda they are being fed about Elizabeth Warren is a truth the "mainstream media" won't mention. We saw all of this with Hillary Clinton. 30% of Republican voters still think Sec. Clinton ran a pedophile ring out of a DC pizza parlor.
If Sen.Warren, or any other rational candidate has a fair chance at running for President, if all the lies and propaganda of the right-wing media establishment are to be countered, the left and the center of US politics needs an effective counter to right-wing narrative.A presidential campaign is not about specific, detailed policy proposals. It's about a vision for the country. A vision that must be consistent with voters' feelings and expectations; and must be communicated in a clear, energetic way by an effective messenger. That's the way Reagan, Clinton, Obama and Trump won.outkast1213 -> newageblues , 12 Apr 2019 10:13
Does anybody remember Trump's healthcare policy?
People don't vote for policy manifestos. People vote for candidates that inspire and convince.The same Liz that stated as a Senator she had a better chance to effect change than as POTUS in 2016 now is a genius?GeorgeC , 12 Apr 2019 10:12If Warren is the 'intellectual powerhouse' of the Democratic party, then god help them. Not a word about 1 trillion dollar budget deficits and rising (under Trump)-but remember Obama was little better; in 15 years time the US state pension system will be bankrupt, various other states' pension schemes are also effectively bankrupt (see Illinois, Tennessee) as are various cities (Chicago), and all Warren and Trump can think of is more debt, and nor will MMT help (we know this is just deficit spending on steroids). None of these people are 'progressive' - by not tacking the key problem of runaway debt it just robs everyone by forcing a default - not an 'honest' one, but rather the route taken by all politicians, namely rapid devaluation of the currency; something that robs all people, and destroys savings. Instead all we get are jam today, and bankruptcy tomorrow.needaname100 -> Thomas1178 , 12 Apr 2019 10:11She changed her ethnicity from white to Native American at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Also, a large majority of Americans have Native American DNA....and EW has less than the average American (which is 5%)...she has 0.20. She abused a privilege and got called out.Thomas1178 -> mwesqcpa , 12 Apr 2019 10:05She's too damn smart, is the problem. Along with all her qualifications she has also a lot of very solid wins that she brought home for the people of Massachusetts as a senator, from helping fisherman to low-income students suffering from college debt -- emphasizing that she's actually helped working class people and people in student debt should be a no brainer. And yet she seems not to have a savvy political operator advising her – she sure as hell hasn't gotten out ahead of the Native American thing, and I don't know why no one is doing that for her.LydiaLysette , 12 Apr 2019 10:03"Elizabeth Warren is the intellectual powerhouse of the Democratic party"
Then they really are in trouble.....
Just take 1 point....
"She has called for abolishing the electoral college, the unfair institution the US used to elect executives "
Well that requires a constitutional amendment, that requires a two thirds majority in both houses and then ratification by three quarters of the States. The ERA was proposed in 1923 didn't get through Congress until 1972 and is still short of the 38 State ratifications to adopt it. That's an issue of direct concern to at least half the population. The idea that a procedural change to the constitution for partisan benefit is getting through the process is blatantly laughable. Particularly as there appear to be about 27 states that have enhanced importance under the current system ( http://theconversation.com/whose-votes-count-the-least-in-the-electoral-college-74280 ) and only 13 are needed to kill it.
Apr 14, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.comHARPhilby -> HARPhilby , 12 Apr 2019 08:55ABT-Anybody But Trumpmoderate_rebel_rebel , 12 Apr 2019 08:55Warren has the same foreign policy as all the others, invade, sanction, destroy. Steal oil, gold and assets. The US has become a deluded neurotic police state rife with addiction and so addled it is no longer a force for good in any sphere.
In short it is now a part of the problem and no longer a part of any workable solution. Who becomes POTUS is therefore irrelevant.
Warren is flawed ideologically and personally, US citizens need to wake up and recognise that the POTUS is an irrelevant position with no authority and that until you tackle the neocon ridden nature of US politics nothing will ever change.
There is no hope in systems, only hope in people. Politics has become irrelevant in the face of our impending extinction.
Apr 12, 2019 | www.theguardian.com
It may well not be Warren who wins the Democratic nomination, but whoever does will be campaigning on her ideas
since her initial announcement in December, Warren's campaign has rolled out a series of detailed policy proposals in quick succession, outlining structural changes to major industries, government functions, and regulatory procedures that would facilitate more equitable representation in the federal government and overhaul the economy in favor of the working class. These policy proposals have made Warren the Democratic party's new intellectual center of gravity, a formidable influence who is steadily pushing the presidential primary field to the left and forcing all of her primary challengers to define their political positions against hers.
Warren has become the Democratic party's new intellectual center of gravity
Warren herself is an anti-trust nerd, having come to the Senate from a career as an academic studying corporate and banking law. On the stump, she's most detailed in the same areas where she is most passionate, like when she talks about about breaking up huge tech companies such as Amazon and Google, and implementing a 21st-century -- version of the Glass-Steagall act that would separate commercial and investment banking (she has also called for prosecuting and jailing bank executives who break the law). But her policy agenda is broader than that, taking on pocketbook issues that have resonance with working families.
Warren outlined a huge overhaul of the childcare system that would revolutionize the quality, cost and curriculum of early childhood education, with subsidies for families and a living wage for caregivers. It's a proposal that she talks about in the context of her own career when, as a young mother and fledgling legal mind, she almost had to give up a job as a law professor because childcare for her young son was too expensive.
Warren has also proposed a housing plan that would limit huge investors' abilities to buy up homes, give incentives for localities to adopt renters' protections, and build new public housing. Crucially, and uniquely, her housing plan would also provide home ownership grants to buyers in minority communities that have historically been "redlined", a term for the racist federal housing policies that denied federally backed mortgages to black families. The provision, aimed to help black and brown families buy their first homes, is a crucial step toward amending the racial wealth gap, and it has helped sparked a broader conversation within the party about the need to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves -- a concept that Warren has also endorsed.
Taking her cues from pro-democracy and voting rights advocates such as Stacey Abrams, Warren has also taken on anti-majoritarian constitutional provisions, aiming to make American democracy more representative and less structurally hostile to a progressive agenda. She has called for abolishing the electoral college , the unfair institution the US uses to elect chief executives that makes a vote in New York count less than a vote in Wyoming, and which has resulted in two disastrous Republican presidencies in the past two decades. She has advocated eliminating the filibuster , an archaic procedural quirk of the Senate that would keep the Democrats from ever passing their agenda if they were to regain control of that body. And she has signaled a willingness to pack the courts , another move that will be necessary to implement leftist policies such as Medicare for All -- because even if the next Democratic president can pass her agenda through Congress, she will not be able to protect it from the malfeasance of a federal bench filled with conservative Trump appointees eager to strike it down.
When other candidates campaign, Warren's strong policy positions force them to define themselves against her
Warren has been the first to propose all of these policies, and it is not difficult to see other candidates falling in line behind her, issuing belated and imitative policy proposals, or being forced to position themselves to her right. Warren has promised not to go negative against other Democrats , but her campaign's intellectual project also serves a political purpose: when other candidates campaign, her strong policy positions force them to define themselves against her.
After Warren announced her childcare overhaul, senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris rolled out plans similarly designed to combat gendered economic injustice, calling for guaranteed family leave and better teacher pay , respectively. After Warren rolled out her pro-democracy agenda of eliminating the electoral college, abolishing the filibuster and packing the courts, her ideological rival Bernie Sanders was forced to come out against both eliminating the filibuster and packing the courts , damaging his reputation with a party base who knew that without these interventions, a progressive agenda will probably never be enacted. The pressure eventually forced Sanders to cave to Warren's vision and concede that he would be open to eliminating the filibuster in order to pass Medicare for All.
There's still a long time before the first contests, and it's possible that Warren will succumb to the flaws that her critics see in her campaign. In particular, she might not be able to raise enough money. She's decided not to take any Pac money and not to fundraise with wealthy donors, a position that may be as much practical as it is principled: the super-rich are not likely to donate to Warren anyway, since she has such a detailed plan, called the Ultra Millionaire Tax , to redistribute their money. She may fall victim to the seemingly unshakable controversy over her old claims of Native American ancestry, and she seems doomed to be smeared and underestimated for her sex, called cold and unlikable for her intellect and then, as with other female candidates, derided as pandering when she tries to seem more relatable.
But it would be a mistake to write Warren off as a virtuous also-ran, the kind of candidate whose intellectual and moral commitments doom her in a race dominated by the deep divisions in the electorate and the craven demagoguery of the incumbent. Elizabeth Warren does not seem to be running for president to make a point, or to position herself for a different job. Instead, she is making bold interventions in the political imagination of the party. It may well not be Warren who wins the Democratic nomination, but whoever does will be campaigning on her ideas.Moira Donegan is a Guardian US columnist
CharlesLittle -> Ken Kutner , 12 Apr 2019 11:00Thanks Ken and Thomas. I couldn't have said it better myself. Are we going to pare down the list of Democratic candidates on the basis of one or two stupid missteps? Looking through the Bible, I note that Jesus lost his temper at the money-changers and put down the hard-working Martha. So, he's out too.geejay123 -> Beaufort100 , 12 Apr 2019 10:58Ex Veteran Tulsi Gabbard has a very good chance of taking votes from Trump's base imo.Ranger69 , 12 Apr 2019 10:57
All round the best democratic candidate to declare so far.Im just glad Gabbard made it to the debate stage. More progressives the better.SoonToBeDead -> T0nyN , 12 Apr 2019 10:57Not only the USA, with everyone becoming wealthier, the need for education has declined, across the western world, being liberal or educated has become a swear word. Social media and lazy journalists are doing the rest, its all propaganda now, and permanent contradictory stories means only simple messages cut through the noise, hatred, immigrants, islamophobia, anti-semitism, etc. are classic messages that get through and stir people's emotions. Intellect doesn't win elections with a gullible electorateBaronVonAmericano -> CharlesLittle , 12 Apr 2019 10:54She really is thin in all areas but financial regulation and consumer protection.zagrebZ -> alex13 , 12 Apr 2019 10:54
An excellent Commerce/Treasury secretary, or VP. But she lacks the cohesive vision that Sanders articulates.Trump IS dumb... Or do you want me to Google a few thousand references for you?FolkSpirit -> OliversTravels , 12 Apr 2019 10:48
'Moron'; 'Child-like'; 'Idiot'; 'Can barely read'...
Sound familiar? Words about Trump from his own staff.It was a mistake and it was self-interested and it was unethical. And it was a different time before tribal groups in the US developed and enforced laws regarding membership status. Had Trump not shown disdain for her and all native Americans by calling her Pocahontas as though it were a racial slur, few would have made a big deal from this mistake.Excession77 -> HarryFlashman , 12 Apr 2019 10:42
Warren did confess without need to do so that she had purchased distressed mortgages to turn a profit as a young lawyer like so many of her ethically misguided law colleagues.
If you are or intimately know more than two attorneys you know this was and in some towns and cities still is common practice for building wealth among lawyers who have first notice when these “deals” are posted at the local Court House. Find me a “clean” lawyer anywhere if you can and I doubt you can — they write law and protect themselves and wealthy constituents mightily in doing so.
If you can help remove most of them from political office and replace them with people working professions of greater merit I stand with you. Congress needs intellectual strength and diversity of backgrounds.
Shakespeare: “First, we kill the lawyers”.Tulsi Gabbard or don't bother.garlicbreakfast , 12 Apr 2019 10:41
Unfortunately she opposes wars of choice from the position of an impressive service record in Iraq so she gets ignored in favour of the ridiculous Elizabeth Warren here and in other places. Warren's window was last time anyway when she was coming off the back of viral public speeches about inequality.Posturing as a would-be American native and supporting racial retributions is as far from qualifying as an intellectual powerhouse as it gets. She would be better than Trump, obviously, but then anybody would.BaronVonAmericano , 12 Apr 2019 10:41While I'd prefer the genders reversed, I think she would be an ideal running mate for the front-runner among the declared candidates.Sheldon Hodges -> Londonsage , 12 Apr 2019 10:41
Sanders has much more assiduously defined the moral center that any candidate for president must have: unapologetic confrontation with the oligarchy. Warren is the intellectual weapon such an administration could deploy on the specifics of banking and anti-trust.
This is all the more practical given that Warren has failed to tie race, social justice and criminal justice issues all together in her values-based worldview -- certainly not to the extent that Sanders has, his being well beyond any other candidate's efforts.Because Obama was a canny corporate move to place someone that offered such qualities as intelligence and grammar in sharp relief to GW Bush while remaining closely controlled by the oligarchy.BigDave47 , 12 Apr 2019 10:30Intellectual powerhouse?
Do you include her fraudulent and offensive claims to Native American heritage in that? As CNN has reported, as far back as 1986 she was falsely claiming "American Indian" heritage on official documents. Despite repeated calls by the leaders of the Tribal Nations, she has still failed to apologise. That's some intellectual powerhouse..
Apr 14, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
BMW ends pensions for workers
The era of US companies offering pensions is coming to a close.
The latest evidence: after freezing it's two UK pension plans in 2017, BMW will do the same for its remaining US plans.
Since 2011 new workers have not been offered a pension, but rather a defined contribution plan.
Workers who formerly had a pension will keep what they have accrued, but not accrue more. Current retirees receiving a pension will not be affected.
Apr 13, 2019 | www.unz.com
Daniel Rich , says: April 13, 2019 at 10:38 pm GMT@annamaria
Once one realizes 'justice' [under neoliberalism] is a monetized commodity, lawlessness becomes a viable [and justifiable] option.
Apr 12, 2019 | www.youtube.com
At least 60 companies reported an effective federal tax rate of zero, meaning they owe nothing in federal taxes for 2018, and that tax burden then falls on the rest of us. Senator Elizabeth Warren has a plan to fix that. She joins Stephanie Ruhle in her first interview since unveiling her proposal.
Patti Granros , 6 hours agoSome Person , 8 hours ago
Love Liz Warren. No BS. Policy-driven campaign! She's for the regular people, who keep this country going.Kamikapse , 7 hours ago
60 years ago every job offered health insurance, retirement plans, paid vacation, and all sorts of other benefits. It's time to have them pay a share of our societies costs, they use the same roads, breathe the same air, and drink the same water...Greg Miller , 9 hours ago
Warren has consistently amazed me with her proposals... I hope she will make it to the debates, since everyone's fawning over Bernie and Beto for their fundraising capabilities, I hope they are not trying to sink her...Kip Landingham , 6 hours ago
Warren Buffet, who saved 28 or so million on his, himself said trumps tax deal was foolish..but he also said he wouldn't turn it down, which i don't blame him on that..Google User , 1 hour ago
Senator Warren makes some excellent points (as usual): "market" implies a competitive environment, so when huge corps squeeze out competitors, it's no longer a "market". Corporations/rich individuals always say they made their profits themselves (independently of others or of any social structure systems). Really? If you were living/doing business on a mountaintop, disconnected from everyone else and any infrastructure support, you would have done just as well? That's a load of crap, and if they had any responsibility at all (as opposed to just pure greed), they'd be willing to give back a bit and contribute to the system(s) they build their wealth on.Tessmage Tessera , 7 hours ago
Elizabeth Warren you've got my attention.
The fact is that the wealthy all over the world do not want their position of privilege to be challenged. This is why Bernie Sanders has been saying (for several DECADES) that the only way to move our society forward is to build from the bottom up... not the top down. And he is 100% correct.
Apr 10, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Via Disobedient Media
On June 12, 2018 The Washington Post ran an overlooked story where they disclosed that National Security Advisor John Bolton had accepted money from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, Deutsche Bank and HSBC to return for his participation in speeches and panel discussions. These three entities have been linked to various kinds of corruption including sanctions evasion for Iran, money laundering on behalf of drug cartels, provision of banking services to backers of Islamic terror organizations and controversial donations to the Clinton Foundation.
The financial ties between Bolton and these institutions highlight serious ethical concerns about his suitability for the position of National Security Advisor.
I. Victor Pinchuk Foundation
John Bolton accepted $115,000 from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation to speak at multiple events hosted by the Foundation including one in September 2017 where Bolton assured his audience that President Donald Trump would not radically change US foreign policy despite his explicit campaign promises to do so.
The Victor Pinchuk Foundation was blasted in 2016 over their donation of $10 to $25 million to the Clinton Foundation between 1994 and 2005. The donations lead to accusations of influence peddling after it emerged that Victor Pinchuk had been invited to Hillary Clinton's home during the final year of her tenure as Secretary of State.
Even more damning was Victor Pinchuk's participation in activities that constituted evasions of sanctions levied against Iran by the American government. A 2015 exposé by Newsweek highlighted the fact that Pinchuk owned Interpipe Group, a Cyprus-incorporated manufacturer of seamless pipes used in oil and gas sectors. A now-removed statement on Interpipe's website showed that they were doing business in Iran despite US sanctions aimed to prevent this kind of activity.
Why John Bolton, a notorious war hawk who has called for a hardline approach to Iran, would take money from an entity who was evading sanctions against the country is not clear. It does however, raise serious questions about whether or not Bolton should be employed by Donald Trump, who made attacks on the Clinton Foundation's questionable donations a cornerstone of his 2016 campaign.
II. HSBC Group
British bank HSBC paid Bolton $46,500 in June and August 2017 to speak at two gatherings of hedge fund managers and investors.
HSBC is notorious for its extensive ties to criminal and terror organizations for whom it has provided illegal financial services. Clients that HSBC have laundered money for include Colombian drug traffickers and Mexican cartels who have terrorized the country and recently raised murder rates to the highest levels in Mexico's history . They have also offered banking services to Chinese individuals who sourced chemicals and other materials used by cartels to produce methamphetamine and heroin that is then sold in the United States. China's Triads have helped open financial markets in Asia to cartels seeking to launder their profits derived from the drug trade.
In 2012, HSBC was blasted by the US Senate for for allowing money from Russian and Latin American criminal networks as well as Middle Eastern terror groups to enter the US. The banking group ultimately agreed to pay a $1.9 billion fine for this misconduct as well as their involvement in processing sanctions-prohibited transactions on behalf of Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma.
Some of the terror groups assisted by HSBC include the notorious Al Qaeda. During the 2012 scrutiny of HSBC, outlets such as Le Monde , Business Insider and the New York Times revealed that HSBC had maintained ties to Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank. Al Rajhi Bank was one of Osama Bin Ladin's "Golden Chain" of Al Qaeda's most important financiers. Even though HSBC's own internal compliance offices asked for the bank to terminate their relationship with Al Rajhi Bank, it continued until 2010.
More recently in 2018, reports have claimed that HSBC was used for illicit transactions between Iran and Chinese technology conglomerate Huawei. The US is currently seeking to extradite Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou after bringing charges against Huawei related to sanctions evasion and theft of intellectual property. The company has been described as a "backdoor" for elements of the Chinese government by certain US authorities.
Bolton's decision to accept money from HSBC given their well-known reputation is deeply hypocritical. HSBC's connection to terror organizations such as Al Qaeda in particular is damning for Bolton due to the fact that he formerly served as the chairman of the Gatestone Institute , a New York-based advocacy group that purports to oppose terrorism. These financial ties are absolutely improper for an individual acting as National Security Advisor.
III. Deutsche Bank
John Bolton accepted $72,000 from German Deutsche Bank to speak at an event in May 2017.
Deutsche Bank has for decades engaged in questionable behavior. During World War II, they provided financial services to the Nazi Gestapo and financed construction of the infamous Auschwitz as well as an adjacent plant for chemical company IG Farben.
Like HSBC, Deutsche Bank has provided illicit services to international criminal organizations. In 2014 court filings showed that Deutsche Bank, Citi and Bank of America had all acted as channels for drug money sent to Colombian security currency brokerages suspected of acting on behalf of traffickers. In 2017, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay a $630 million fine after working with a Danish bank in Estonia to launder over $10 billion through London and Moscow on behalf of Russian entities. The UK's financial regulatory watchdog has said that Deutsche Bank is failing to prevent its accounts from being used to launder money, circumvent sanctions and finance terrorism. In November 2018, Deutsche Bank's headquarters was raided by German authorities as part of an investigation sparked by 2016 revelations in the "Panama Papers" leak from Panama's Mossack Fonseca.
Two weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks, the Bush administration signed an executive order linking a company owned by German national Mamoun Darkazanli to Al Qaeda. In 1995, Darkazanli co-signed the opening of a Deutsche Bank account for Mamdouh Mahmud Salim. Salim was identified by the CIA as the chief of bin Laden's computer operations and weapons procurement. He was ultimately arrested in Munich, extradited to the United States and charged with participation in the 1998 US embassy bombings.
In 2017, the Office of the New York State Comptroller opened an investigation into accounts that Deutsche Bank was operating on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The PFLP is defined by both the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organization. It is ironic that Bolton, who is a past recipient of the "Guardian of Zion Award" would accept money from an entity who provided services to Palestinian groups that Israel considers to be terror related.
IV. Clinton-esque Financial Ties Unbecoming To Trump Administration
Bolton's engagement in paid speeches, in some cases with well-known donors to the Clinton Foundation, paints the Trump administration in a very bad light. Donald Trump criticized Hillary Clinton during his 2016 Presidential campaign for speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs that were labeled by her detractors as "pay to play" behavior. John Bolton's acceptance of money from similar entities, especially the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, are exactly the same kind of activity and are an embarrassment for a President who claims to be against corruption.
More broadly, John Bolton's work for the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, HSBC and Deutsche Bank shows that while he preaches hardline foreign policy approaches towards nations such as Iran and North Korea he has no issue tying himself to those who openly flaunt American sanctions and diplomatic attempts to pressure these states. For an individual who is the President's National Security Advisor to have taken money from banks who provide financial services to terror groups who have murdered thousands of Americans is totally unacceptable.
It is embarrassing enough that Donald Trump hired Bolton in the first place. The next best remedy is to let him go as soon as possible.
Apr 11, 2019 | talkingpointsmemo.comSen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) unveiled a major plank in her platform to tax the rich on Thursday, introducing plans for a new tax on all corporations that clear $100 million in annual profits.
Warren's "real corporate profits tax" is aimed at large corporations like Amazon that have generated huge profits in recent years while almost entirely avoiding federal taxes through a series of loopholes and credits.
"Because of relentless lobbying, our corporate income tax rules are filled with so many loopholes and exemptions and deductions that even companies that tell shareholders they have made more than a billion dollars in profits can end up paying no corporate income taxes," Warren wrote in a Medium post unveiling the plan. "Let's bring in the revenue we need to invest in opportunity for all Americans. And let's make this year the last year any company with massive profits pays zero federal taxes."
The plan would institute a seven percent tax on profits over $100 million in addition to current taxes. An economic analysis released by Warren's campaign estimated that at least 1,200 companies would be forced to pay new taxes under the plan, generating a net revenue boost of at least $1 trillion for the government.
Warren's plan is aimed at large corporations -- ones that have generally paid lower tax rates than smaller companies in recent years. The GOP tax cut law nearly doubled the number of publicly held companies that paid no federal taxes from 30 to 60 in the last year alone, according to a recent study from the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
This is the latest significant tax proposal the Massachusetts senator has unveiled as part of her campaign platform, which also includes a two percent surtax on people with more than $50 million in assets and a three percent surtax on those who have $1 billion.
The plans have earned her plaudits on the left and drawn concern from some more business-friendly moderate Democrats.
But so far, they haven't proven a game-changer in the presidential race. Warren continues to struggle to siphon off a significant chunk of voters who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) last election, her natural base of support. She's regularly polled in the mid- to upper-single digits in recent state and national polls, in the second tier of candidates.
And she raised just $6 million in her first quarter in the campaign, her team announced yesterday. That's not a terrible haul in a crowded field, especially since she's sworn off big donors, but it's nothing compared to the huge sums she pulled in as a Senate candidate -- and trailed even upstart South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D).
She also spent almost all of that money, having built out a large staff in the early primary states with a high payroll.
And Sanders isn't giving her much room on her left: He reintroduced a sweeping Medicare for all plan on Wednesday, which she cosponsored, a move that puts pressure on Warren and other Democrats to keep up as they try to woo the progressive wing of the party base.
Apr 08, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs , April 07, 2019 at 06:00 AM(Liz swerves left!)
Here's how Elizabeth Warren is trying to outmaneuver Bernie Sanders
https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2019/04/05/warren-call-for-end-senate-filibuster/S3saQJayxQNZBPTXQ85x1O/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe
Liz Goodwin - April 5, 2019
NEW YORK -- Senator Elizabeth Warren lobbed another policy grenade into the Democratic primary Friday, announcing she supports drastically changing the Senate by eliminating its legendary filibuster to give her party a better chance of implementing its ambitious agenda.
The move puts her campaign rivals on the spot to explain how they would pass their own ambitious legislative priorities if the Senate keeps its rule in place requiring a 60-vote supermajority to advance most bills.
Warren's announcement allows her to swerve to the left of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in a meaningful way at a time when she's straggling far behind him in early polls and grass-roots fund-raising.
Sanders, who popularized proposals like free college and Medicare for All among Democrats during his 2016 run for president, has been reluctant to support scrapping the filibuster. That raises questions about how he would be able to pass his sweeping proposals into law should he become president, given Democrats are extremely unlikely to have 60 seats in the Senate.
"I'm not running for president just to talk about making real, structural change," Warren told a group of activists at a conference organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton, where she announced her opposition to the filibuster. "I'm serious about getting it done. And part of getting it done means waking up to the reality of the United States Senate."
The appearance in New York caps off a three-week run that has seen Warren call for making it easier to send executives to jail for corporate crimes, unveil a proposal to break up farm monopolies, endorse forming a commission to study reparations for the descendants of slaves, and say she would like to abolish the Electoral College so presidents are elected by popular vote.
"Bernie Sanders, nobody's to his left on policy, but there's lots of running room on his left on procedural changes that would be necessary to enact those policies," said Brian Fallon, a former top Hillary Clinton aide and the founder of the liberal advocacy group Demand Justice.
Sanders said he's not "crazy about" the idea of getting rid of the filibuster in an interview in February, but said in a later statement that he is open to reform.
Getting rid of the Senate filibuster, which has been around since the mid-1800s, was once seen as a radical proposal that would undermine the chamber's ability to take a deliberative approach to major issues. But Democratic and Republican majorities have chipped away at it in recent years, jettisoning filibusters for Cabinet and Supreme Court nominees.
Just this week, Senate Republicans infuriated Democrats by unilaterally reducing the amount of debate time for other executive branch and judicial nominees before a filibuster could be ended.
The move to ditch the filibuster has gained currency among liberals frustrated that the Senate is more Republican than the general public because of liberals clustering on the coasts and the constitutional requirement that all states get two senators regardless of population.
President Trump and Barack Obama have complained about the filibuster, with Obama saying last year that it made it "almost impossible" to govern.
Though probably too wonky a proposal to reach the average voter, the debate over the Senate filibuster animates the Democratic activists who are watching the primary the most closely and whose support the candidates are vying to win. Those activists are unmoved by candidates who say they'll be able to persuade Republicans to sign onto their ambitious liberal legislation.
"The idea that you can win people over by inviting them over for drinks on the Truman Balcony -- that is completely out of vogue," Fallon said.
Other candidates have also called for getting rid of the filibuster, including Governor J*a*y Inslee of Washington and Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, who is pondering a run. However, Warren is the first sitting senator in the race to do so. Senator Kamala Harris of California, who signed a letter in 2017 affirming the filibuster, now says she's conflicted about it.
The filibuster's defenders say it protects the rights of the minority party, and forces the majority to compromise. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, who also signed the 2017 letter, has said he is concerned that getting rid of the filibuster would mean Republicans would be able to more easily pass legislation in the future over Democrats' objections.
In her speech to the National Action Network's activists, a largely black crowd, Warren framed the filibuster as a tool of "racists" who used it for decades to block civil rights legislation, including a bill to make lynching a federal crime that was first introduced in the early 1900s. The legislation finally passed this year.
"We can't sit around for 100 years while climate change destroys our planet, while corruption pervades every nook and cranny of Washington, and while too much of a child's fate in life still rests on the color of their skin," she said.
After her speech, Warren told reporters that she is concerned about the bills Republicans would be able to pass without the filibuster, but that getting rid of it is worth it for Democrats. "Of course I'm worried. But I'm also worried about a minority that blocks real change that we need to make in this country," she said.
The calls to eliminate the filibuster are part of a larger debate among Democrats about reforming US democracy after they lost the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections despite winning the popular vote. Warren, along with several other Democrats, has also called to abolish the Electoral College. Warren, Harris, and former representative Beto O'Rourke of Texas are also open to the idea of the next president expanding the number of seats on the Supreme Court to offset its conservative majority.
Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who pushes a host of liberal policies, has been more conservative on these proposals than many of his presidential campaign rivals. He is against expanding the court, arguing it would be a slippery slope that Republicans could also take advantage of, and is still on the fence about ditching the filibuster and abolishing the Electoral College.
Warren declined to call out her Senate colleagues when asked whether she was surprised they had not endorsed the idea of ending the filibuster. "All I can do is keep running the campaign I'm running and talking about these ideas," she said.
Apr 07, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
In this Real News Network interview, Bill Black gives a high-level overview of the New York case against not just opioid profiteers, the Sackler family and their companies, but also other key participants, like “pain doctors” who were tied in to the Sackers’ marketing efforts.
timbers , April 6, 2019 at 8:22 am
I just want to know one thing: How many Sacklers are going to jail and for how long?
If NY wants to make the most of it's limited resources (as Black notes) then why haven't they issued arrest warrants for the Sackers and frozen their bank accounts?
Seems to me a whole lot of folks with privilege and $$$ in the news who would have be arrested on the spot had someone else (like me for example) done the same thing but w/o all that privilege and $$$ (Zuckerburg, Boeing CEO, Sacklers).
allan , April 6, 2019 at 9:16 am
Yes, more of this, please: Criminal Trial Of Opioid-Peddling Drug Company Execs Goes To The Jury [NPR]
Carl , April 6, 2019 at 8:26 am
What I hope does not get entirely forgotten in this matter is the people who need relief from pain, yet can’t get the drugs they need because doctors are so afraid to prescribe effective pain-killers, except for extreme cases, like post-op or late-stage cancers. I’m told this is the situation in New York State. Elsewhere, too?
Edward , April 6, 2019 at 1:32 pm
I wonder if the Sacklers could have gotten away with their crime if less people were killed. Suppose only 500 people were killed each year. Would the government have responded?
Iapetus , April 6, 2019 at 1:37 pm
Somehow certain aspects of this story feel vaguely familiar .
orange cats , April 6, 2019 at 3:17 pm
Oh blah blah blah. Please notice what’s absent in these “conversations” about the “opioid” crisis. The recent increase in overdose deaths is due to the (often accidental) ingestion of street fetanyl as a result of prescription opioids being restricted.
No one emphasizes the shocking absence of funding for mental health facilities; addiction research and the role of economic factors contributing to drug use; social safety nets for addicts and their children…in sum, WHY ARE SO MANY PEOPLE IN SO MUCH PAIN?
In this country you have to be sprawled unconscious in the front seat of a running car to get any help, help being prison. Jailing the Sacklers isn’t going to change that one iota.
GERMO , April 6, 2019 at 4:30 pm
The laboring class is largely being ground into hamburger. A condition of chronic, relentless pain that you can never get away from is the unchosen lifestyle for millions. That the treatment for pain (opioids) is also pretty good for despair is half an explanation for the epidemic. The other half, which is rarely mentioned, is that millions of people hurt all the time, physically or otherwise, and this is just collateral damage in the class struggle that we poor folks continue to lose.
It’s sad that the process of justice against the monsters like the Sacklers will only result in more of that pain and suffering, and to know that they won’t in the end suffer much of anything at all. The handy myth of “overprescribing” will carry the day for the higher-status class of folks who’ve never had to contend with chronic pain conditions — conditions that come about mainly because we’re so prone to being worked like dogs by psychopath bosses.
orange cats , April 6, 2019 at 5:52 pm
Thank you. I am disappointed that Bill Black and his “High-level interview” was boilerplate off-with-their-heads bunk. I admire him but do not understand why he is being recruited to opine on drug policy.
kiers , April 7, 2019 at 5:12 pm
I wonder (REALLY WONDER) if the Sacklers do not have some kind of sweet-heart insurance contract that will handle THEIR (financial) “pain” with these “suits”. Funny how A.G.s lead the chivalrous charge to “clean up” wrong-doing WELL AFTER political cover ALLOWS them to go after the elite. Funny how that works eh? Cyrus Vance gets to add to his kitty.
run75441 , April 7, 2019 at 5:15 pm
There was a major study done on the use of Opioids conducted at Boston University Medical Center, Waltham MA. The result of that study were published in a brief letter to the NEMJ.
“Recently, we examined our current files to determine the incidence of narcotic addiction in 39,946 hospitalized medical patients who were monitored consecutively. Although there were 11,882 patients who received at least one narcotic preparation, there were only four cases of reasonably well documented addiction in patients who had no history of addiction. The addiction was considered major in only one instance. The drugs implicated were meperidine in two patients, Percodan in one, and hydromorphone in one. We conclude that despite widespread use of narcotic drugs in hospitals, the development of addiction is rare in medical patients with no history of addiction.” Jane Porter; Herschel Jick; MD Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program, Boston University Medical Center, Waltham, MA.
Note the key words here are: ” We conclude that despite widespread use of narcotic drugs in hospitals, the development of addiction is rare in medical patients with no history of addiction.”
This particular letter (or note as some may call it) to the NEJM was cited 608 times of which 491 times was in a positive manner about addiction being rare in medical patients. The 491 (~81%) citations fail to mention the patients given Opioids were in a hospital setting and grossly misrepresented the conclusions of the letter . 72.2% cited it as evidence that addiction was rare in patients treated with opioids.
It took 37 years before another letter to the editor studied the impact of the misuse of that citation by doctors, Purdue Pharma, other Pharmaceutical Companies, etc. The authors accomplished a bibliometric analysis of the correspondence from its publication in 1980 until March 30, 2017. For each citation, two reviewers independently evaluated the portrayal of the article’s conclusions, using an adaptation of an established taxonomy of citation behavior4 along with other aspects of generalizability. The analysis which I have posted the resulting chart from it before can be found here: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1700150
The Jick and Porter letter can be found here in the Supplemental Appendix along with various quotes by doctors: https://www.nejm.org/doi/suppl/10.1056/NEJMc1700150/suppl_file/nejmc1700150_appendix.pdf
Ten years earlier or 2007, Purdue Pharma was fined $800 million by the courts after the DOJ sued them. Three executives were convicted and sentenced. From 2006 to 2015 Opioid companies spent $800 million in a 50 state strategy. The mother of Cameron Weiss found out the power of Pharma the hard way when her push for new laws in New Mexico were defeated before a vote was even taken.
In 1980 the death rate resulting from Opioid overdose was less than 1 per 100,000 and the overall death rate from Drugs was 1 per 100,000. With the introduction of OxyContin and the abuse of the Jick and Porter Letter, the death rate associated from Opioid Overdose increased to 1 per 100,000 one year later and doubled to 2 per 100,000 in 2 years. In 2015, it has soared to ~10 per 100,000.
Without knowing what has led up to the abuse of Opioids the story has always been recreational use of drugs an Opioids has caused this epidemic without ever a mention of Purdue or the other drug companies. The explosion in the use of Opioids was very deliberate and the drug companies should be held responsible for it. Now with fewer Opioid pills being prescribed, people have moved on to Heroin and Opioid derivatives. The companies lit the fuse and left with their profits.
The reason I wrote this long comment is I believe Bill Black gave this topic the short shrift. There is a lot of history on Opioid abuse and how it came to be.
Apr 06, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Too often caught between Randian individualism on one hand and big-government collectivism on the other, America's working-class parents need a champion.
They might well have had one in Elizabeth Warren, whose 2003 book, The Two-Income Trap , co-authored with her daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi, was unafraid to skewer sacred cows. Long a samizdat favorite among socially conservative writers, the book recently got a new dose of attention after being spotlighted on the Right by Fox News's Tucker Carlson and on the Left by Vox's Matthew Yglesias .
The book's main takeaway was that two-earner families in the early 2000s seemed to be less, rather than more, financially stable than one-earner families in the 1970s. Whereas stay-at-home moms used to provide families with an implicit safety net, able to enter the workforce if circumstances required, the dramatic rise of the two-earner family had effectively bid up the cost of everyday life. Rather than the additional income giving families more breathing room, they argue, "Mom's paycheck has been pumped directly into the basic costs of keeping the children in the middle class."
Warren and Warren Tyagi report that as recently as the late 1970s, a married mother was roughly twice as likely to stay at home with her children than work full-time. But by 2000, those figures had almost reversed. Both parents had been pressed into the workforce to maintain adequate standards of living for their families -- the "two-income trap" of the book's title.Advertisement
What caused the trap to be sprung? Cornell University economist Francine Blau has helpfully drawn a picture of women's changing responsiveness to labor market wages during the 20th century. In her work with Laurence Kahn, Blau found that women's wage elasticities -- how responsive their work decisions were to changes in their potential wages -- used to be far more heavily driven by their husband's earning potential or lack thereof (what economists call cross-wage elasticity). Over time, Blau and Kahn found, women's responsiveness to wages -- their own or their husbands -- began to fall, and their labor force participation choices began to more closely resemble men's, providing empirical backing to the story Warren and Warren Tyagi tell.
Increasing opportunity and education were certainly one driver of this trend. In 1960, just 5.8 percent of all women over age 25 had a bachelor's degree or higher. Today, 41.7 percent of mothers aged 25 and over have a college degree. Many of these women entered careers in which they found fulfillment and meaning, and the opportunity costs, both financially and professionally, of staying home might have been quite high.
But what about the plurality of middle- and working-class moms who weren't necessarily looking for a career with a path up the corporate ladder? What was pushing them into full-time work for pay, despite consistently telling pollsters they wished they could work less?
The essential point, stressed by Warren and Warren Tyagi, was the extent to which this massive shift was driven by a desire to provide for one's children. The American Dream has as many interpretations as it does adherents, but a baseline definition would surely include giving your children a better life. Many women in America's working and middle classes entered the labor force purely to provide the best possible option for their families.The Student Loan Trap Up From Consumerism
In the search for good neighborhoods and good schools, a bidding war quickly became an arms race. There were "two words so powerful the families would pursue them to the brink of bankruptcy: safety and education ." The authors underplay the extent to which policy had explicitly sought to preserve home values, driven by their use as investment vehicles and retirement accounts, a dynamic covered expertly by William Fischel's The Homevoter Hypothesis . But their broader point is accurate -- rising house prices, aided and abetted by policy choices around land use, have made it harder for families to afford the cost of living in 21st-century America.
Another factor in the springing of the trap? Divorce. In her 2000 book about how feminism had failed women, Danielle Crittenden writes about how fear of dependency, especially in an era of no-fault divorce, had caused women to rank financial independence highly.
These two factors, along with others Warren and Warren Tyagi explore, made it difficult for families to unilaterally disarm without losing their place in the middle class. "Today's middle-class mother is trapped," they write. "She can't afford to work, and she can't afford to quit."
A quiet armistice may have been declared in the so-called "mommy wars," but the underlying pressures haven't gone away since The Two-Income Trap was published. If anything, they've gotten worse.
Warren and Warren Tyagi propose severing the link between housing and school districts through a "well-designed voucher program," calling the public education system "the heart of the problem." They correctly note that "schools in middle-class neighborhoods may be labeled 'public,'" but that parents effectively pay tuition by purchasing a home within a carefully selected school district. Breaking the cartel that ties educational outcomes to zip codes would increase choices for families and open the door to further educational pluralism.
Warren and Warren Tyagi are also unafraid to tell unpopular truths about the futility of additional funding for colleges (identifying "faith in the power of higher education [as] the new secular religion"), housing affordability ("direct subsidies are likely to add more ammunition to the already ruinous bidding wars, ultimately driving home prices even higher"), universal child care (which "would create yet another comparative disadvantage for single-income families trying to compete in the marketplace"), and usurious credit (Warren's long work on bankruptcy requires deeper treatment than this space allows, but their questioning of our over-reliance on consumer debt deserves a fuller hearing).
Warren's presidential campaign contains elements of this attempt to make life easier for families, but the shades of her vision of a pro-family economic policy seem paler than they were a decade and a half ago.
Her universal child care plan , for example, seemingly contradicts her prior stated worries about disadvantaging stay-at-home parents. While she explicitly -- and wisely -- steers clear of a subsidy-based approach, her attempt to "create a network of child care options" does less to directly support families who aren't looking for formal care. In a sense, Warren would replicate the public school experience for the under-five crowd -- if you don't want to participate, that's fine, but you'll bear the cost on your own. A true pro-family populism would seek to increase the choice set for all families, regardless of their work-life situations.
Warren's housing plan has similarly good intentions, seeking to increase the supply of affordable housing rather than simply trying to subsidize demand. Her competitive education grant would reward municipalities for relaxing restrictive zoning requirements. But while her campaign has yet to release a plan on education, it seems unlikely we'll see the kind of bold approach to educational choice she espoused in 2003. Populist sympathizers of all ideological stripes should hope I'm proven wrong.
Warren's attempt at pro-family progressive populism seems honest. If not for certain infamous biographical missteps, her personal story would be one of how America is still a land of opportunity -- the daughter of a Oklahoma department store salesman who worked her way to a law degree, a professorship, and a Senate seat. There's a congruence in her positioning of economic security as a family values issue and the resurgent interest in a pro-worker, pro-family conservative agenda. And unlike so many politicians, her personal experience seems to have instilled an understanding of why so many dual-earner families see work as a means to the end of providing a better life for their children rather than an end in itself.
A politician willing to question the sacred cows of double-income families, more money for schools, and easy credit is the kind of politician this populist moment requires. A candidate willing to call into question an economic model that prioritizes GDP growth over all else would boldly position himself or herself as being on the side of families whose vision of the American Dream involves a better life for their children, yet who are exhausted and hemmed in by costs.
How Warren needs to position her platform to navigate the vicissitudes of a Democratic Party primary will likely not be the best way to address the needs of the modern American family. But in a crowded field, an uncompromising vision of increased choice for families across all dimensions -- not just within the public school system, for example, but among all options of education -- would be an impressive accomplishment and a way of distinguishing herself from the pack. An explicit defense of parenthood as a social good would be unconventional but welcome.
Still, a marker of how far the conversation around families has shifted from the early 2000s is the extent to which Warren's and Warren Tyagi's view of parenthood as something more than an individual "lifestyle choice" would now be viewed as radical, particularly on the Left. "That may be true from the perspective of an individual choosing whether or not to have a child," they write, "but it isn't true for society at large. What happens to a nation that rewards the childless and penalizes the parents?"
What indeed. Paging the Elizabeth Warren of 2003 -- your country needs you.
Patrick T. Brown ( @PTBwrites ) is a master's of public affairs student at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
JonF April 4, 2019 at 6:22 amDoe anyone think the middle and especially upper middle class would be in favor of a school choice plan that would cause their housing values to take hit? And there's another big roadblock with a school choice program: the need for transportation. Two years ago my next door neighbors who were able to place their young son in a good school across town sold their house and moved to be closer to the school since the daily cross-town commute at rush hour was just too much.grin without a cat , says: April 4, 2019 at 7:44 amThey might well have had one in Elizabeth Warren, whose 2003 book, The Two-Income Trap, co-authored with her daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi, was unafraid to skewer sacred cows.Chris Atwood , says: April 4, 2019 at 9:38 am
It's more recent than that. The first edition was 2003, but a second edition came out in 2016, by which time Mom probably knew she might be running for president. It's got a new introduction by the authors, so obviously it was done with their cooperation.
I haven't read either edition, so I don't know what's been changed in the new one.Great essay.Roy Fassel , says: April 4, 2019 at 10:30 am
I am struck again and again, by the unbelievable power of the forces in the political arena pushing everyone who is a Democrat because they are fiscally liberal* to ALSO become socially liberal,* and everyone who is a Republican because they are socially conservative* to ALSO become fiscally conservative.*
The net result of the laws of motion seem to systematically take the ideological space of "socially conservative, fiscally liberal" (the old New Deal) and push everyone in it either out to the usual left "fiscally liberal, socially liberal" or the usual right "socially conservative, fiscally conservative" quadrants.
This article shows how it's happening with Elizabeth Warren in one direction, and it's happened constantly with socially conservative Republicans who get yanked back to the proper quadrant anytime they try to move to a direction of economic policy that doesn't involve tax cuts for the rich and actually help their constituents.One can have all the opinions on better ways to do things for the good of society, but if those ideas are not politically viable, it creates a change in directions. Warren probably by now .realizes how complicated all of these policy issues are and the unintended consequence of these policies are always a factor and a risk. Elizabeth Warren seems to have a good grasp of complicated issues, but that never get her the support she would need to prevail in this campaign. We currently live in the age of "Fantasyland" spewed by both the Trump RINOs and the Lunatic Left. Warren is a thinker. That is not helpful these days.Sid Finster , says: April 4, 2019 at 10:55 amWhat happened is that Warren wants the Team D nomination, and Team D, like Team R, could not care less about the 99.9% of Americans who are not non-campaign bundlers or big contributors.Chris in Appalachia , says: April 4, 2019 at 11:46 am
In fact, Team D (again, just like Team R) is actively hostile to any proposal that might take money out of the pockets of the .1%, or otherwise affect the way the the economic pie is sliced.If this was the 1970s Warren would probably have supported busing. Pocahontas – leave my safe neighborhood, my children's schools, and my home equity alone. Because these well meaning social engineering schemes seldom work out as planned. As a middle class American I will probably get the short end of the stick.BradleyD , says: April 4, 2019 at 12:15 pm
Funny that policy makers never want to help families by taking a little chunk out of hedge funds and shareholders and vulture capitalists and sharing it with American workers. Talk about "the heart of the problem."My wife and I did a sort of calculation. In our state child care would be about 11,000 per child per year. Also, you can't drop them off if they are sick, so you have to use your sick days for them. Oh, and if you don't use the child care if you're on vacation, you still need to pay to hold the slot. With two kids and taxes, she has to clear well over 30k per year to about break even.EliteCommInc. , says: April 4, 2019 at 1:00 pm
Add in the fact you'll be missing out on their childhood, spending maybe three or so hours per day with them, is it really worth it?
The more I see the 'big tech' developments, they are basically things your pay for to let you work so you can afford to work. TaskRabbit, Fivrer, DoorDash, etc basically give you free time so you can work more."What happens to a nation that rewards the childless and penalizes the parents?"EliteCommInc. , says: April 4, 2019 at 1:13 pm
They become liberals, democrats, anarchists, socialists, communists . . . supporters of murdering children in the womb, efficiency advocates by way of eugenics . . . and other assorted malcontents against ordered society.This may be unfair as I have not read the book.rps , says: April 4, 2019 at 3:22 pm
But in my view, what has damaged economic sociology has been the shift in practice without any assessment what it would do to the traditional family dynamic between husbands and wives in family construction. That simply demanding that space be made for women and millions of women would seriously tighten the job market for all and disrupt the pillars upon which our nation was built, despite its problems.
Power dynamic, chivalry outran practical realities and that remains the case in increasingly stratifying civil demands.
And while I sympathetic to the complaint about bussing, that had a very little impact on the employment numbers which government and businesses and edication raced to fill the discrimination expectations with women, and primarily white women.
tired comment, but accurate nonetheless, so instead of hiring men in response to discrimination, those men were instead replaced by women, most of whom already had access via the cultural dynamics of the majority.Warren and Warren Tyagi propose severing the link between housing and school districts through a "well-designed voucher program," calling the public education system "the heart of the problem." [ ]Fran Macadam , says: April 4, 2019 at 4:34 pm
In my opinion, Warner's education voucher proposal by guaranteeing voucher dollar enrollment in the affluent zip codes ignores the heart of the education problem. Affluent zip codes do not ensure a child's academic success via 'better' teachers and educational materials. Public schools in the big cities are filled with teachers who have their masters and Ph.D's along with continuing education requirements.
Student success is fundamentally based upon parental commitment and community involvement. Are the parents committed to their children's academic success? Does the parent(s) provide a conducive and safe home environment? Does the child have a quiet space to study, do their homework and prepare for school? Does the parent(s) sit down and teach? Review the child's homework? Do the parents volunteer at the school? Are they involved with school events? Is education a top priority? Or is school a babysitting service to drop off and pick up?
Those affluent zip codes are more than a number. For the most part, they are a supportive community of families.
A child's academic success is assuredly tethered to the parental guiding hands. Simply, a child's success begins at home with parents who care about their children's future.She Woke up.Robert K U , says: April 4, 2019 at 6:47 pm
Careerism trumps sanity. In the age of #MeToo, it's got to be all about me.Probably, every conservative will agree, that the basic flaw is materialism. Thus, with materialism, personal values that cannot be sold or bought for money, are neglected in favour of the gross domestic product per capita philosophy. Such personal values are, for instance, family values, that is, children need both a mother, especially when they are below teenage, and a father, especially when they are teenagers, and perhaps most important, a father and a mother need one another. All this family thing does, however, not enter into the money economy of big government. Whence, on the side of families, those need to take quite brave choices, to choose morals above money. And on the side of the government, this needs to tax the rich and help the poor. In fact, according to the World Bank, economic growth is stimulated best, if governments help the poor directly, rather than with obscure subsidies to the economic system. However, there is also the difficulty with difficult access to regular jobs. By no doubt, abortion genosuicide decreases demand on the most simple of goods and services, causing unemployment for the poor, and driving up costs of raising children. Society then goes into socialism, with genosuicide instead of economic growth, while the money flows into pension funds of the upper middle class. Governments must simply help the poor. Humankind has always been able to produce twice the amount of good food that it needs, but bureaucratic governments keep the poor enslaved, to fill them with lie.Tim , says: April 4, 2019 at 7:19 pmWarren's academic work and cheeky refusal to fold under pressure when her nomination as Obama's consumer ('home ec.'?) finance czar was stymied by the GOP are worthy of respect. I'd like to see her make a strong run at the dem nomination, but am put off by her recent tendency to adopt silly far-left talking points and sentiments (her Native DNA, advocating for reparations, etc.). Nice try, Liz, but I'm still leaning Bernie's direction.EliteCommInc. , says: April 4, 2019 at 10:57 pm
As far as the details of the economic analysis related above, though, I am unqualified to make any judgment – haven't read the book. But one enormously significant economic development in the early 70s wasn't mentioned at all, so I assume she and her daughter passed it over as well. In his first term R. Milhouse Nixon untethered, once & for all, the value of the dollar from traditional hard currency. The economy has been coming along nicely ever since, except for one problematic aspect: with a floating currency we are all now living in an economic environment dominated by the vicissitudes of supplies and demands, are we not? It took awhile to effect the housing market, but signs of the difference it made began to emerge fairly quickly, and accelerated sharply when the tides of globalism washed lots of third world lucre up on our western shores. Now, as clearly implied by both Warren and the author of this article, young Americans whose parents may not have even been born back then – the early 70s – are probably permanently priced out of the housing market in places that used to have only a marginally higher cost of entry – i.e. urban California, where I have lived and worked for most of my nearly 60 years. In places like this even a 3-earner income may not suffice! Maybe we should bring back the gold standard, because it seems to me that as long as unfettered competition coupled to supply/demand and (EZ credit $) is the underlying dynamic of the American economy we're headed for the New Feudalism. Of course, nothing could be more conservative than that, right? What say you, TAColytes?"Maybe we should bring back the gold standard, because it seems to me that as long as unfettered competition coupled to supply/demand and (EZ credit $) is the underlying dynamic of the American economy we're headed for the New Feudalism."K squared , says: April 5, 2019 at 7:05 am
I take it you think the old one has departed.
It was in the area of how businesses and government were reciprocating unhealthy and unfair business practices is where I think her advocacy was most accurate. But she has abandoned all of that."Funny that policy makers never want to help families by taking a little chunk out of hedge funds and shareholders and vulture capitalists and sharing it with American workers."
Funny that Warren HAS brought up raising taxes on the rich.
Apr 05, 2019 | www.commondreams.org
"We can't sit around for 100 years while the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful and everyone else falls further and further behind."
The 2020 presidential candidate is expected to endorse the proposal in a speech at the National Action Network Convention in New York Friday morning.
"When Democrats next have power, we should be bold and clear: We're done with two sets of rules -- one for the Republicans and one for the Democrats," Warren is expected to say. "And that means when Democrats have the White House again, if Mitch McConnell tries to do what he did to President Obama and puts small-minded partisanship ahead of solving the massive problems facing this country, then we should get rid of the filibuster."
"I'm not running for president just to talk about making real, structural change. I'm serious about getting it done," the speech reads. "And part of getting it done means waking up to the reality of the United States Senate."
Getting rid of the filibuster -- the Senate procedure which allows a minority party to delay a vote by drawing out debate and block legislation from passing by requiring a "supermajority" of 60 senators to approve it -- would be a key step toward passing progressive measures, advocates say.
At the NAN Convention, Warren is expected to note that the filibuster has stopped the Senate from passing radical justice legislation for decades, including an anti-lynching bill which was first introduced a century ago but didn't pass until December 2018.
"It nearly became the law back then. It passed the House in 1922. But it got killed in the Senate -- by a filibuster. And then it got killed again. And again. And again," Warren plans to say. "More than 200 times. An entire century of obstruction because a small group of racists stopped the entire nation from doing what was right."
Advocates including Warren also say the end of the filibuster would make it easier for the Senate to pass meaningful legislation to combat the climate crisis and to further other progressive causes.
"We can't sit around for 100 years while the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful and everyone else falls further and further behind," Warren's speech reads. "We can't sit around for 100 years while climate change destroys our planet, while corruption pervades every nook and cranny of Washington, and while too much of a child's fate in life still rests on the color of their skin. Enough with that."
Warren joins fellow 2020 Democratic hopefuls Pete Buttigieg and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in endorsing the end of the filibuster. Her speech Friday will represent her latest push for "structural change" that she says would have far-reaching positive effects on the lives of working Americans. Since announcing her candidacy in January she has called for a tax on the wealth of the richest Americans to combat economic inequality and fund progressive programs, a universal childcare plan, and a breakup of powerful tech giants , among other proposals.
Apr 05, 2019 | www.commondreams.orgdescribed as "probably the most dishonest argument in the entire Medicare for All debate."
"People who love their employer-based insurance do not get to hold on to it in our current system. Instead, they lose that insurance constantly, all the time. It is a complete nightmare."
-- Matt Bruenig, People's Policy Project
In an interview with the Washington Post , the Democratic leader said she is "agnostic" on Medicare for All and claimed, "A lot of people love having their employer-based insurance and the Affordable Care Act gave them better benefits."
Matt Bruenig, founder of the left-wing think tank People's Policy Project, argued in a blog post that Pelosi's statement "implies that, under our current health insurance system, people who like their employer-based insurance can hold on to it."
"This then is contrasted with a Medicare for All transition where people will lose their employer-based insurance as part of being shifted over to an excellent government plan," Bruenig wrote. "But the truth is that people who love their employer-based insurance do not get to hold on to it in our current system. Instead, they lose that insurance constantly, all the time, over and over again. It is a complete nightmare."
To illustrate his point, Bruenig highlighted a University of Michigan study showing that among Michiganders "who had employer-sponsored insurance in 2014, only 72 percent were continuously enrolled in that insurance for the next 12 months.
"This means that 28 percent of people on an employer plan were not on that same plan one year later," Bruenig noted.
"Critics of Medicare for All are right to point out that losing your insurance sucks," Bruenig concluded. "But the only way to stop that from happening to people is to create a seamless system where people do not constantly churn on and off of insurance. Medicare for All offers that. Our current system offers the exact opposite. If you like losing your insurance all the time, then our current healthcare system is the right one for you."
All On Medicare -- a pro-Medicare for All Twitter account -- slammed Pelosi's remarks, accusing the Democratic leader of parroting insurance industry talking points:
The Speaker's alternative to the Medicare for All legislation co-sponsored by over 100 members of her caucus is a bill to strengthen the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which she introduced last week .
"We all share the value of healthcare for all Americans -- quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans," Pelosi told the Post . "What is the path to that? I think it's the Affordable Care Act, and if that leads to Medicare for All, that may be the path."
The nation's largest nurses union was among those who expressed disagreement with the Speaker's incrementalist approach.
In a statement last week, National Nurses United president Zenei Cortez, RN, said Pelosi's plan would "only put a Band-Aid on a broken healthcare system."
"National Nurses United, along with our allies, will continue to build the grassroots movement for genuine healthcare justice and push to pass Medicare for All," Cortez concluded.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
Apr 04, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org
Academics have different interests from practitioners. Publications, tenure and mentoring students are university responsibilities, not responsibilities for governing the world. ( It is an open question whether [neoliberal] academics sub-consciously want to govern the world .)
Harvard University has a rule – known as the Kissinger rule – that faculty can only take two years off to do other activities such as government work in Washington.
David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest is a damning recounting of how the Harvard elite failed to understand the Vietnam War because of its arrogance.)
Apr 03, 2019 | www.propublica.org
Wealthy politicians and businessmen suspected of corruption in their native lands are fleeing to a safe haven where their wealth and influence shields them from arrest.
They have entered this country on a variety of visas, including one designed to encourage investment. Some have applied for asylum, which is intended to protect people fleeing oppression and political persecution.
The increasingly popular destination for people avoiding criminal charges is no pariah nation.
It's the United States.
An investigation by ProPublica, in conjunction with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University, has found that officials fleeing prosecution in Colombia, China, South Korea, Bolivia and Panama have found refuge for themselves and their wealth in this country, taking advantage of lax enforcement of U.S. laws and gaps in immigration and financial regulations. Many have concealed their assets and real-estate purchases by creating trusts and limited liability companies in the names of lawyers and relatives.
American authorities are supposed to vet visa applicants to make sure they are not under active investigation on criminal charges. But the ProPublica examination shows that this requirement has been routinely ignored.
One of the most prominent cases involves a former president of Panama, who was allowed to enter the United States just days after his country's Supreme Court opened an investigation into charges that he had helped embezzle $45 million from a government school lunch program.
Ricardo Martinelli, a billionaire supermarket magnate, had been on the State Department's radar since he was elected in 2009. That year, the U.S. ambassador to Panama began sending diplomatic cables warning about the president's "dark side," including his links to corruption and his request for U.S. support for wiretapping his opponents.
Soon after Martinelli left office in 2014, Panamanian prosecutors conducted a widely publicized investigation of corruption in the school lunch program, and in mid-January 2015, forwarded their findings to the country's Supreme Court.
On Jan. 28, 2015, just hours before the Supreme Court announced a formal probe into the charges, Martinelli boarded a private plane, flew to Guatemala City for a meeting and then entered the United States on a visitor visa. Within weeks, he was living comfortably in the Atlantis, a luxury condominium on Miami's swanky Brickell Avenue. He is still here.
The State Department declined to comment on Martinelli's case, saying visa records are confidential and it is the U.S. Customs and Border Protection that decides who is allowed to enter the country. CBP said privacy regulations prevent the agency from commenting on Martinelli.
Efforts to reach Martinelli, including a registered letter sent to his Miami address, were unsuccessful.
In September this year, Panama asked to extradite Martinelli, but the former president is fighting that request, arguing there are no legal grounds to bring him back to his home country where the investigation has broadened to include insider trading, corruption and abuse of authority. Last December, Panama's high court issued a warrant for his arrest on charges that he used public funds to spy on over 150 political opponents. If found guilty, he could face up to 21 years in jail.
Rogelio Cruz, who is defending Martinelli in Panama's Supreme Court, said that the former president "will return to Panama once adequate conditions exist with respect to due process, where there are independent judges -- which there aren't."
The United States has explicit policies that bar issuing visas to foreign officials facing criminal charges in their homelands. In 2004, President George W. Bush issued a proclamation designed to keep the United States from becoming a haven for corrupt officials. Proclamation 7750, which has the force and effect of law, directed the State Department to ban officials who have accepted bribes or misappropriated public funds when their actions have "serious adverse effects on the national interests of the United States."
Under the rules implementing Bush's order, consular officers do not need a conviction or even formal charges to justify denying a visa. They can stamp "denied" based on information from unofficial, or informal sources, including newspaper articles, according to diplomats and State Department officials interviewed for this report.
The State Department declined to provide the number of times Proclamation 7750 has been invoked, but insisted that it has been used "robustly."
Over the years, some allegedly corrupt officials have been banned from entering the United States, including former Panamanian President Ernesto Perez Balladares , former Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Aleman, former Cameroonian Defense Minister Remy Ze Meka, and retired Philippine Gen. Carlos Garcia , according to cables published by WikiLeaks. In 2014, the U.S. banned visas for 10 members of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's inner circle because of corruption allegations.
But numerous other foreign government officials, including former presidents and cabinet ministers, have slipped through the cracks, according to court documents, diplomatic cables and interviews with prosecutors and defense attorneys in the United States and abroad. The charges involved a wide range of misconduct, from stealing public funds to accepting bribes.
Six months before Martinelli entered the United States, a former Colombian agriculture minister and onetime presidential candidate, Andres Felipe Arias, fled to Miami three weeks before he was convicted of funneling $12.5 million to wealthy political supporters from a subsidy program that was intended to reduce inequality in rural areas and protect farmers from the effects of globalization.
The U.S. embassy in Bogota had been following Arias' trial closely and reporting on the scandal in cables to Washington. The trial featured documents and witnesses saying that under Arias' watch, the agriculture ministry had doled out millions in subsidies to affluent families, some of whom, according to media reports, had donated to Arias' political allies or his presidential campaign.
Subsidies went to relatives of congressmen, companies owned by the richest man in Colombia, and a former beauty queen. One powerful family and its associates received over $2.5 million, according to records released by prosecutors. Another family, which included relatives of a former senator, received $1.3 million. Both families had supported Arias' chief political ally, former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, with campaign contributions.
The law that established the program did not ban wealthy landowners from getting grants, but some elite families had received multiple subsidies for the same farm. They gamed the system by submitting multiple proposals in the names of different family members and by subdividing their land so they could apply for grants for each parcel, court records indicate.
Yet, in November 2013, while the trial was going on, the U.S. embassy in Bogota renewed Arias' visitor visa. The State Department refused to discuss the case, saying that visa records are confidential. But a recent filing in federal court showed that the U.S. embassy had flagged Arias' application, and asked him to provide documents to support his request to leave the country while charges were pending. Arias submitted documents from the Colombian court, including a judicial order that allowed him to travel. In the end, the embassy issued a visa because he had not yet been convicted.
On the night of June 13, 2014, three weeks before the judges convicted him of embezzlement by appropriation, a Colombian law that penalizes the unauthorized use of public funds to benefit private entities, Arias packed his bags and boarded a plane. The following month, the U.S. embassy in Bogota revoked the visa. But Arias hired an immigration attorney and applied for asylum.
"If you looked up 'politically motivated charges' in the dictionary, there would be a picture of Andres Arias next to it," said David Oscar Markus, Arias' lead attorney. "The case [against him] is absurd and not even one that is recognized in the United States."
Over the next two years, Arias built a new life in South Florida with his wife and two children, opening a small consulting company and renting a house in Weston.
On August 24, he was arrested by U.S. authorities in response to an extradition request from Colombia. He spent several months in a detention facility until his release on bail in mid-November. Arias argues that the United States cannot extradite him because it has no active extradition treaty with Colombia, but the U.S. Attorney's Office disagrees. A plea for asylum does not shield defendants from extradition if they are charged in Colombia with a crime covered by the treaty between the two countries.
Congress established the EB-5 immigrant investor program in 1990 as a way of creating jobs for Americans and encouraging investment by foreigners.
The agency that administers the program, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, has adopted regulations designed to prevent fraud, including requiring foreign investors to submit evidence, such as tax returns and bank statements, to prove they obtained their money legally.
But these safeguards did not stop the daughter-in-law and grandsons of former South Korean dictator Chun Doo-hwan from using Chun's ill-gotten gains to get U.S. permanent residency.
In 1996, a Korean court convicted Chun of receiving more than $200 million in bribes while in office in the 1980s, from companies such as Samsung and Hyundai. He was ordered to return the bribes, but refused.
Part of Chun's fortune was funneled into the United States through his son, who purchased a $2.2 million house in Newport Beach, California, according to South Korean prosecutors and real-estate records.
Millions of dollars from Chun's bribery proceeds were hidden in bearer bonds, which are notoriously difficult to trace. Unlike regular bonds, which belong to registered owners, there is no record kept about the ownership or transfer of bearer bonds. The bonds can be cashed out by whoever has them.
In 2008, Chun's daughter-in-law, a South Korean actress named Park Sang-ah, applied for an immigrant investor visa. Park listed her husband's bearer bonds as the source of her funds without mentioning that the money had been initially provided to him by Chun. Eight months later, Park and her children received their conditional U.S. permanent residency cards in the mail.
In 2013, at the request of South Korean prosecutors, the U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation into the Chun family's wealth in the United States and subsequently seized $1.2 million of the family's U.S. assets in the United States. The money was returned to South Korea. Despite that, Chun's family members have retained their residency status.
Chun's relatives obtained their permanent residency by investing in an EB-5 project managed by the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, a nonprofit company. The PIDC pooled Chun's $500,000 with money from 200 other foreign investors to finance an expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center in downtown Philadelphia.
The same project in Philadelphia also helped to secure permanent residency for Qiao Jianjun, a Chinese government official accused of embezzling more than $40 million from a state-owned grain storehouse, according to reports in the People's Daily, the Chinese Communist Party's newspaper. Qiao had divorced his wife, Shilan Zhao, in China in 2001, a fact he did not disclose to U.S. immigration authorities. When Zhao applied for an EB-5 visa, Qiao qualified for U.S. permanent residency as an applicant's spouse.
The Justice Department launched an investigation only when it was tipped off by Chinese authorities. In January 2014, a federal grand jury indicted Zhao and her ex-husband, Qiao, for immigration fraud, money laundering and internationally transporting stolen funds. Zhao was arrested and released on bail. Federal authorities are pursuing Qiao, whose whereabouts remain unknown.
A trial has been set for February 2017. U.S. government attorneys have filed asset forfeiture cases to recover real estate linked to Qiao and Zhao in Flushing, New York, and Monterey Park, California.
In April 2015, Qiao appeared on the Chinese government's list of 100 "most wanted" officials who fled abroad after being accused of crimes such as bribery and corruption. He and 39 other government officials and state-owned enterprise leaders on the list allegedly fled to the United States.
The list, called "Operation Skynet," is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign, which has vowed to take down what Chinese officials describe as corrupt "tigers" and "flies" within the country's ruling Communist Party.
Fengxian Hu was another fugitive on China's list. A former army singer and radio broadcaster, Hu headed the state-owned broadcasting company that had a joint venture with Pepsi to distribute soft drinks in Sichuan province. In 2002, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal reported that Pepsi had accused Hu of looting the joint venture and using company funds to buy fancy cars and go on European tours.
The same year, in a widely publicized move, Pepsi filed a case with international arbitrators in Stockholm, asking that the joint venture be dissolved. Despite this, Hu was given a visa that allowed him to fly regularly to Las Vegas, where he was a VIP client at the MGM casino.
In January 2010, Chinese authorities investigated Hu for corruption. But the month before, Hu had entered the United States on a B1 visitor visa, joining his wife, a U.S. citizen living in New York.
Hu tried to obtain a green card through his wife, but the petition was rejected by U.S. immigration authorities. He applied for asylum instead.
Meanwhile, he had gotten into trouble in the United States for losing millions in a Las Vegas casino and failing to pay a $12 million gambling debt. In 2012, he was indicted in a Nevada court on two counts of theft and one count of intentionally passing a check without sufficient funds.
Hu pled not guilty to the charges; his lawyers claimed that his checks bounced because his bank account had been closed by Chinese authorities. The charges against him in the U.S. were considered an aggravated felony, which is a common basis for deportation. Hu, however, had a pending asylum case and so could not be deported.
In August 2015, a New York immigration judge denied the asylum claim. But Hu's lawyers argued that he would be tortured if he returned to China and invoked the United Nations Convention Against Torture , which says that an alien may not be sent to a country where he is likely to be tortured. In the end, the immigration court suspended Hu's removal order, allowing him to remain in the United States and work here indefinitely. He will not, however, be given permanent residency or be allowed to travel outside the country.
The absence of an extradition treaty -- coupled with a high standard of living -- makes the United States a favored destination for Chinese officials and businessmen fleeing corruption charges.
In April 2015, Jeh Johnson, the Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security , made a 48-hour trip to Beijing. The visit was intended to pave the way for Chinese President Xi Jinping's U.S. visit in September 2015, according to a memorandum Johnson wrote, which was obtained through a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
In the memo, Johnson said the Chinese government is seeking 132 people it said have fled to the United States to avoid prosecution. This represents a greater number of fugitives than Chinese authorities have publicly acknowledged.
"I'm told that in prior discussions, the Chinese have been frustrated by the lack of any information from us about the 132 fugitives," Johnson wrote.
The Chinese request for assistance posed a dilemma for the United States. American officials are concerned about a lack of fairness in China's criminal justice system. Human rights groups say that China continues to use torture to extract false confessions from suspected criminals. Torture has also been documented to be part of shuanggui -- a secretive discipline process reserved for members of the Chinese Communist Party.
Some analysts see the crackdown on corrupt officials as part of a purge aimed at the current regime's political rivals and ideological enemies. U.S. officials say this makes returning corrupt officials to China a delicate issue for the United States.
In 2003, headlines around the world reported widespread street protests in Bolivia that led to security forces killing 58 people, most of them members of indigenous groups. Not long afterward, as protesters massed up on the streets of La Paz demanding his resignation, Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada resigned and fled his country along with his defense minister, Jose Carlos Sanchez Berzain.
The two men flew to the United States, where they continue to reside. In 2006, Berzain applied for political asylum, which he was granted in 2007. On his application, when the form asked, "Have you or your family members ever been accused, charged, arrested, detained, interrogated, convicted and sentenced, or imprisoned in any country other than the United States?" Berzain checked the box "no," even though by then he and de Lozada had been formally accused of genocide by Bolivia's attorney general. The indictment was approved by Bolivia's Supreme Court in 2007. Berzain also stated on his application that the State Department had arranged for his travel to the United States.
The de Lozada administration was vocally pro-American. Before it was ousted, officials had announced they would facilitate gas exports to the United States.
After their departure, Bolivia's attorney general publicly stated that the administration had embezzled millions from government coffers, but did not formally file charges. He said de Lozada had taken some $22 million from the country's reserve funds before fleeing.
De Lozada and members of his administration have dismissed the allegations as part of a politically motivated smear campaign, but there is evidence to suggest irregularities may have occurred in the handling of the reserve funds. The former president signed a decree shortly before leaving office authorizing the interior and finance ministers to withdraw money from Bolivia's reserve funds without going through the normal approval process. De Lozada's former interior minister pleaded guilty in 2004 to embezzlement after $270,000 in cash was found in an associate's home.
De Lozada, a mining mogul before he became president, moved to Chevy Chase, Maryland, an upscale suburb of Washington, D.C. He now lives in a two-story brick house bought for $1.4 million by Macalester Limited, a limited liability company that was formed in the British Virgin Islands and lists a post office box in the Bahamas as its principal address.
De Lozada's immigration status is unclear. He said in a sworn deposition in 2015 that he was not a U.S. citizen. His son-in-law, who spoke to ProPublica on his behalf, would not say whether de Lozada had applied for asylum.
Berzain, meanwhile, settled in South Florida. Records show that he and his brother-in-law personally own or are listed as officers or members of business entities that together control around $9 million worth of Miami real estate.
Some of the purchases were made in the names of entities that appear to list different variations of Berzain's name in business records.
In addition, in the purchase of two properties, Berzain's name was added to business records only after the deal had gone through. Berzain's brother-in-law incorporated a company called Warren USA Corp in October 2010, for example, and the company purchased a $1.4 million residential property the following month. Three weeks after Warren USA Corp became the owner of an elegant Spanish-style villa in Key Biscayne, Berzain was added as the company's secretary.
The following year, in May 2011, Berzain's brother-in-law created Galen KB Corp and registered as the company's president. A month later, Galen KB Corp purchased a $250,000 condo. In August, Berzain replaced his brother-in-law as the company's president, according to business records. Berzain is no longer listed as a company officer in either company.
During an interview in January, Berzain told ProPublica "I don't have any companies." When asked about several of the companies associated with his name or address in public records, the former defense minister said he had a consulting firm that helped clients set up companies and that he was sometimes added to the board of directors. Efforts to reach Berzain's brother-in-law, a wealthy businessman and the owner of a bus company in Bolivia, were unsuccessful. Berzain's brother-in-law has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
The practice of purchasing real estate in the name of a business entity like a limited liability company, or LLC, is a common and legal practice in high-end real-estate markets, and one that enables celebrities and other wealthy individuals to protect their privacy.
But the practice also allows foreign officials to hide ill-gotten gains. U.S. regulations allow individuals to form business entities like LLCs without disclosing the beneficial owner. The LLCs can be registered in the names of lawyers, accountants or other associates -- or even anonymously in some states -- and used to purchase real estate, making it nearly impossible to determine the actual owner of a property.
Government investigators and lawmakers have pointed out persistent gaps in U.S. policy that have enabled corrupt officials to evade justice and hide their assets in this country. But little has changed.
Last year, a U.S. Government Accountability Office investigation said it can be "difficult" for immigration officials to identify the true source of an immigrant investor's funds. Immigration officials told the government auditors that EB-5 applicants with ties to corruption, the drug trade, human trafficking and other criminal activities have a strong incentive to omit key details about their financial histories or lie on their applications.
"It's very easy to get lost in the noise if you're a bad person," said Seto Bagdoyan, the accountability office's director of forensic audits, who co-authored the GAO report.
Immigration officials, he added, have an "almost nonexistent" ability to thoroughly evaluate investors' backgrounds and trace their assets.
Despite such weaknesses, Congress has continually extended the EB-5 program with minor changes. The program is backed by real-estate lobbyists who argue that it is a crucial source of financing for luxury condos and hotels. The program is expected to thrive in a Trump presidency because the president-elect is a developer and his son-in-law Jared Kushner received $50 million in EB-5 funds to build a Trump-branded tower in New Jersey.
In 2010, a Senate report described how powerful foreign officials and their relatives moved millions of dollars in suspect funds into the United States. The report said investors bypassed anti-money laundering regulations with help from U.S. lawyers, real-estate agents, and banking institutions. Last year, ABC News reported that lobbyists for real estate and other business groups spent $30 million in 2015 in an effort to protect the EB-5 program.
Senate investigators proposed legislation that would require companies to disclose their beneficial owners and make it easier for authorities to restrict entry, deny visas and deport corrupt foreign officials.
A few of the proposals have been adopted, but they have not made much difference. Banks have stepped up their efforts to identify corrupt officials and monitor their accounts. Professional groups such as the American Bar Association have issued non-binding guidelines for their members on compliance with anti-money-laundering controls. The U.S. government has also worked with the Financial Action Task Force , an international body set up to fight money laundering, to bring its anti-corruption controls in accordance with the body's guidelines.
In May, the Treasury Department enacted a new rule that will take full effect in 2018 and will require financial institutions to identify the beneficial owners of shell companies. Some advocates see the rule as a step backward. The new rule allows shell companies to designate the manager of the account as the beneficial owner, concealing the identity of the person ultimately exercising control.
The State Department declined to say what progress, if any, it has made on the Senate subcommittee's recommendation to more aggressively deny visas through Proclamation 7750. "The Department takes seriously congressional recommendations and devotes resources to addressing corruption worldwide," a State Department official wrote in response to questions.
In 2010, then-Attorney General Eric Holder launched the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. The small unit, which has grown to include 16 attorneys, aims to recover assets in the United States that are tied to foreign corruption and return the money to the looted countries.
Over the past six years, the unit has filed around two dozen civil asset forfeiture cases in an attempt to seize money, real estate and other assets tied to government officials from 16 countries. Assets have ranged from a lone diamond-encrusted glove worn by Michael Jackson that was purchased by Equatorial Guinea's Vice President, Teodoro Obiang, to a $1 billion fund tied to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Yet most of the money the Department of Justice has pursued remains in limbo. The case involving Chun, the former president of South Korea, is one of only two instances in which corrupt gains have been returned to the home country through the Justice Department's efforts. The other arose when Justice Department officials returned $1.5 million to Taiwan from property bought with bribes paid to the family of Chun Shui Bian, the former president of Taiwan.
The agency faces myriad challenges when attempting to seize and return assets acquired by corrupt foreign officials, including a lack of witnesses, said Kendall Day, head of the Department of Justice's Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section. These officials often shield their transactions through shell companies, offshore companies or a network of associates.
"The mission of the Kleptocracy Initiative is really to target what we call grand foreign corruption that impacts the U.S. financial system," Day said, citing the Chun case as an example.
The 2012 Magnitsky Act gives the government power to deny visas and freeze the assets of Russian nationals accused of corruption or human rights violations. The Global Magnitsky Act would extend the same sanctions to the rest of the world, but it has yet to be passed by Congress. Unlike Proclamation 7750, the Magnitsky laws require the government to publish a list of foreign government officials who are barred from the United States.
In addition, the Treasury Department imposed regulations this year that aim to crack down on the use of shell companies to purchase real estate in places like Miami and Manhattan. Title insurance companies are now required to identify the real owners of companies purchasing high-end real estate without a mortgage. These regulations, however, are temporary.
Apr 02, 2019 | www.zerohedge.comOriginally from: Forget 'Creepy' - Biden Has A Major Ukraine Problem Joe Biden appears to have made a major tactical error last year when he bragged to an audience of foreign policy experts how he threatened to hurl Ukraine into bankruptcy if their top prosecutor, General Viktor Shokin, wasn't immediately fired, according to The Hill 's John Solomon.
In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees , sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn't immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. - The Hill
"I said, ' You're not getting the billion .' I'm going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ' I'm leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money, '" bragged Biden, recalling the conversation with Poroshenko.
" Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time," Biden said at the Council on Foreign Relations event - while insisting that former president Obama was complicit in the threat.
Interviews with a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials confirm Biden's account, though they claim the pressure was applied over several months in late 2015 and early 2016, not just six hours of one dramatic day . Whatever the case, Poroshenko and Ukraine's parliament obliged by ending Shokin's tenure as prosecutor. Shokin was facing steep criticism in Ukraine, and among some U.S. officials, for not bringing enough corruption prosecutions when he was fired. - The Hill
And why would Biden want the "son of a bitch" fired?
In what must be an amazing coincidence, the prosecutor was leading a wide-ranging corruption investigation into a natural gas firm - which Biden's son, Hunter, sat on the board of directors.
The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden's younger son, Hunter, as a board member.
U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden's American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts -- usually more than $166,000 a month -- from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia. - The Hill
The Hill 's Solomon reviewed the general prosecutor's file for the Burisma probe - which he reports shows Hunter Biden, his business partner Devon Archer and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of money.
And before he was fired, Shokin says he had made "specific plans" for the investigation - including "interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden." "I would like to emphasize the fact that presumption of innocence is a principle in Ukraine," added Shokin. Joe Biden "clearly had to know" about the probe before he insisted on Shokin's ouster . Via The Hill:
Although Biden made no mention of his son in his 2018 speech, U.S. and Ukrainian authorities both told me Biden and his office clearly had to know about the general prosecutor's probe of Burisma and his son's role. They noted that:
- Hunter Biden's appointment to the board was widely reported in American media;
- The U.S. Embassy in Kiev that coordinated Biden's work in the country repeatedly and publicly discussed the general prosecutor's case against Burisma;
- Great Britain took very public action against Burisma while Joe Biden was working with that government on Ukraine issues;
- Biden's office was quoted, on the record, acknowledging Hunter Biden's role in Burisma in a New York Times article about the general prosecutor's Burisma case that appeared four months before Biden forced the firing of Shokin. The vice president's office suggested in that article that Hunter Biden was a lawyer free to pursue his own private business deals.
President Obama named Biden the administration's point man on Ukraine in February 2014 , after a popular revolution ousted Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych and as Moscow sent military forces into Ukraine's Crimea territory.
Key questions for 'ol Joe:
Was it appropriate for your son and his firm to cash in on Ukraine while you served as point man for Ukraine policy? What work was performed for the money Hunter Biden's firm received? Did you know about the Burisma probe? And when it was publicly announced that your son worked for Burisma, should you have recused yourself from leveraging a U.S. policy to pressure the prosecutor who very publicly pursued Burisma?
Read the rest of Solomon's report here .
Chupacabra-322 , 58 minutes ago linkSon of Captain Nemo , 1 hour ago link
Remember Victoria Nuland's famous phone recording of "**** the EU?" This was nothing more than another CIA destabilization campaign carried out of another Sovereign Country. With the goal of breaking the Bush Senior & Jim Baker agreement of not surrounding Russia with NATO countries after their Collapse.
Let's face it. If Ukrainians loved it's Country, Joey, Hunter and the Choco-**** would have wound up like Mikhail Lesin during an all night party in an upscale grotto in Kiev by now!
Amazing that all 3 of them are still alive and that "Song Bird" McCain (#4) was allowed to die from his brain cancer instead of joining them or being dismembered and put on display when he made these visit(s) ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbfsTcJCKDE ) along with General Vallely (#5)!!!
Taras Bulba , 1 hour ago
At last some questions for this dirt ball-burisma is tied in with one of the most if not the most corrupt oligarch, Koloimiski. Biden is up to his eyeballs in some dodgy deals in china as well-this guy and his son are walking corruption personified.
CarifonianSeven, 2 hours ago
Didn't Hillary teach Joe that a tax free foundation is better than using your son's LLC for laundering the bribes... This is basic stuff.
Pernicious Gold Phallusy, 1 hour ago
Joe cheated his way through undergrad and law school. He would be unable to understand any of that.
whittler, 1 hour ago
What? You mean folks will finally care about little Hunter hiring Azov neo-Nazi fighters (oops! security I mean) to protect his fracking site just north of the 'troubles' in the eastern Ukraine? I'm sure they were working for free and that no Biden money was ever used to payoff (oops again! I mean pay the wages of) a bunch of Nazis (dang it again, I mean neo-Nazis, it sounds so much warmer and fuzzier when you add 'neo').
Creepy Joe and all D's agree, 'Nazi' = bad, neo-Nazi = warm, fuzzy and good; heck, they even like to kill Russians Russians Russians!!!
Cracker 16 , 1 hour ago
Joe "the Conqueror" "Caesar Magnus" Biden. Joe of Ukraine, the best bud of $oro$.
Mar 31, 2019 | medium.com
At CNN's town hall event on Monday, the American people saw something we'd been told was impossible: Elizabeth Warren winning over a crowd.
The Massachusetts senator took aim at a variety of subjects: the Electoral College, Mississippi's racist state flag, the rise of white nationalism . Always, she was met with thunderous applause. Even a simple Bible verse -- from Matthew 25:35–40, about moral obligation to the poor and hungry -- prompted cheers so loud and prolonged that Warren had to pause and repeat herself in order to make her voice heard over the noise. Yet this was the same woman the media routinely frames as too wonky, too nerdy, too socially stunted. But then, Warren has always been an exceptionally charismatic candidate. We just forget that fact when she's campaigning -- due, in large part, to our deep and lingering distrust for female intelligence.
Warren is bursting with what we might call "charisma" in male candidates: She has the folksy demeanor of Joe Biden, the ferocious conviction of Bernie Sanders, the deep intelligence of fellow law professor Barack Obama. But Warren is not a man, and so those traits are framed as liabilities, rather than strengths. According to the media, Warren is an uptight schoolmarm, a " wonky professor ," a scold, a wimpy Dukakis, a wooden John Kerry, or (worse) a nerdier Al Gore.
The criticism has hit her from the left and right. The far-right Daily Caller accused her of looking weird when she drank beer ; on social media, conservatives spread vicious (and viciously ableist) rumors that Warren took antipsychotic drugs that treated "irritability caused by autism ." On the other end of the spectrum, Amber A'Lee Frost, the lone female co-host of the socialist podcast Chapo Trap House , wrote for The Baffler (and, when The Baffler retracted her article, for Jacobin) that Warren was " weak " and " not charismatic ." Frost deplored the "Type-A Tracy Flicks" who dared support "this Lisa Simpson of a dark-horse candidate."
Casting Warren as a sheltered, Ivory Tower type is odd, given that her politics and diction are not exactly elitist. Yet none of this is new; the same stereotypes were levied against Warren in 2011, during her Senate campaign.
Strangely, the first nerdification of Warren was a purely local phenomenon -- one which happened even as national media was falling in love with her. Jon Stewart publicly adored her , and her ingenuity in proposing the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau a few years prior earned her respect among the rising populist wing of the party. Her fame was further catapulted when a speech -- a video of Warren speaking, seemingly off-the-cuff , in a constituent's living room -- went viral. "Nobody in this country got rich on his own, nobody," Warren proclaimed, pointing up the ways entrepreneurs benefit from publicly funded services like roads and schools and fire departments.
"First-time candidates don't usually articulate a progressive economic message quite this well," the Washington Monthly declared . The New Yorker called it " the most important political speech of this campaign season. " That enthusiasm continued throughout Warren's first Senate bid. Writing for the New York Times , Rebecca Traister noted that "the early devotion to Warren recalls the ardor once felt by many for Obama." (Obama himself famously echoed Warren's message -- "you didn't build that" -- on the 2012 campaign trail.)
Locally, Warren prompted a much different discussion, with scores of Massachusetts analysts describing her as stiff and unlikable. Boston-based Democratic analyst Dan Payne bemoaned her "know-it-all style" and wished aloud she would " be more authentic I want her to just sound like a human being, not read the script that makes her sound like some angry, hectoring schoolmarm." In a long profile for Boston magazine, reporter Janelle Nanos quoted Thomas Whalen, a political historian at Boston University, who called Warren a "flawed candidate," someone who was " desperately trying to find a message that's going to resonate. " In that same article, Nanos asked Warren point-blank about her "likability problem." Warren's response seemed to stem from deep frustration: "People tell me everywhere I go why they care that I got in this race," she said. "I can't answer the question because I literally haven't experienced what you're talking about."
By demanding that Warren disguise her exceptional talents, we are asking her to lose. Thankfully, she's not listening.
There's an element of gaslighting here: It only takes a reporter a few sources -- and an op-ed columnist a single, fleeting judgment -- to declare a candidate "unlikable." After that label has been applied, any effort the candidate makes to win people over can be cast as "inauthentic." Likability is in this way a self-reinforcing accusation, one which is amplified every time the candidate tries to tackle it. (Recall Hillary Clinton, who was asked about her "likability" at seemingly every debate or town hall for eight straight years -- then furiously accused of pandering every time she made an effort to seem more "approachable.")
It's significant that the " I hate you; please respond" line of political sabotage only ever seems to be aimed at women. It's also revealing that, when all these men talked about how Warren could win them over, their "campaign" advice sounded suspiciously close to makeover tips. In his article, Payne advised Warren to "lose the granny glasses," "soften the hair," and employ a professional voice coach to "deepen her voice, which grates on some." Payne seemed to suggest that Elizabeth Warren look like a model and sound like a man -- anything to disguise the grisly reality of a smart woman making her case.
Warren won her Senate race, and the "schoolmarm" stereotype largely vanished as her national profile grew. By 2014, grassroots activists were begging her to run for president; by mid-2016, CNN had named her " Donald Trump's chief antagonist ." She's since given a stream of incendiary interviews and handed the contemporary women's movement its most popular meme . All this should be enough to prove any candidate's "charisma." Yet, now that she's thrown her hat into the presidential ring, the firebrand has become a Poindexter once again.
The digs at Warren's "professorial" style hurt her because, on some level, they're true. Warren really is an intellectual, a scholar; moreover, she really is running an exceptionally ideas-focused campaign, regularly turning out detailed and exhaustive policy proposals at a point when most of the other candidates don't even have policy sections on their websites. What's galling is the suggestion that this is a bad thing.
Yes, male candidates have suffered from being too smart -- just ask Gore, who ran on climate change 20 years before it was trendy. But just as often, their intelligence helps them. Obama's sophistication and public reading lists endeared him to liberals. And just a few days ago, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg was widely praised for learning Norwegian in order to read an author's untranslated works. Yet, Warren is dorky, a teacher's pet, a try-hard Tracy Flick, or Lisa Simpson. A "know-it-all."
The "schoolmarm" stereotype now applied to Warren has always been used to demean educated women. In the Victorian era, we called them "bluestockings" -- unmarried, unattractive women who had dared to prioritize intellectual development over finding a man. They are, in the words of one contemporary writer, " frumpy and frowly in the extreme, with no social talents ." Educators say that 21st century girls are still afraid to talk in class because of "sexist bullying" which sends the message that smart girls are unfeminine: "For girls, peers tell them 'if you are swotty and clever and answer too many questions, you are not attractive ,'" claims Mary Bousted, joint general-secretary of the U.K.'s National Education Union. Female academics still report being made to feel " unsexual, unattractive, unwomanly, and unnatural. " We can deplore all this as antiquated thinking, but even now, grown men are still demanding that Warren ditch her glasses or "soften" her hair -- to work on being prettier so as to make her intelligence less threatening.
Warren is cast as a bloodless intellectual when she focuses on policy, a scolding lecturer when she leans into her skills as a rabble-rouser; either way, her intelligence is always too much and out of place. Her eloquence is framed, not as inspiring, but as "angry" and "hectoring." Being an effective orator makes her "strident." It's not solely confined to the media, but reporters seem anxious to signal-boost anyone who complains: Anonymous male colleagues call her "irritating," telling Vanity Fair that "she projects a 'holier than thou' attitude" and that " she has a moralizing to her. " That same quality in male candidates is hailed as moral clarity.
Warren is accused, in plain language, of being uppity -- a woman who has the bad grace to be smarter than the men around her, without downplaying it to assuage their egos. But running in a presidential race is all about proving that you are smarter than the other guy. By demanding that Warren disguise her exceptional talents, we are asking her to lose. Thankfully, she's not listening. She is a smart woman, after all.
Mar 31, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
S , Mar 30, 2019 8:51:37 PM | link@b:What is the purpose of making that claim?
The purpose is very simple: to create the perception that the government of Russia still somehow controls or manipulates the US government and thus gains some undeserved improvements in relations with the U.S. Once such perception is created, people will demand that relations with Russia are worsened to return them to a "fair" level. While in reality these relations have been systematically destroyed by the Western establishment (CFR) for many years.
It's a typical inversion to hide the hybrid war of the Western establishment against Russian people. Yes, Russian people. Not Putin, not Russian Army, not Russian intelligence services, but Russian people. Russians are not to be allowed to have any kind of industries, nor should they be allowed to know their true history, nor should they possess so much land.
Russians should work in coal mines for a dollar a day, while their wives work as prostitutes in Europe. That's the maximum level of development that the Western establishment would allow Russians to have (see Ukraine for a demo version). Why? Because Russians are subhumans.
Whatever they do, it's always wrong, bad, oppressive, etc. Russians are bad because they're bad. They must be "taught a lesson", "put into their place". It would, of course, be beneficial and highly profitable for Europeans to break with Anglo-Saxons and to live in peace and harmony with Russia, but Europeans simply can not overcome their racism towards Russians. The young Europeans are just as racist, with their incessant memes about "squatting Russians in tracksuits", "drunken Russians", etc., as if there's nothing else that is notable about a country of 147 million people.
The end goal of the Western establishment is a complete military, economic, psychological, and spiritual destruction of Russia, secession of national republics (even though in some of them up to 50% of population are Russians, but this will be ignored, as it has been in former Soviet republics), then, finally, dismemberment of what remains of Russia into separate states warring with each other.
The very concept of Russian nation should disappear. Siberians will call their language "Siberian", Muscovites will call their language "Moscovian", Pomorians will call their language "Pomorian", etc. The U.S. Department of State will, of course, endorse such terminology, just like they endorse the term "Montenegrian language", even though it's the same Serbo-Croatian language with the same Cyrillic writing system.
Mar 31, 2019 | eand.co
"I don't know why you don't listen. You're making me hurt you. I'm doing it for your own good! -- but it's your fault!"
Does that sound eerily familiar to you? When I look at America and Britain, I see the rise of what I'll simply call mafia politics. It sums up Trumpism and Brexit in a nutshell: abuse gone mega-scale, the search absolute power through the threat of violent aggression, legitimized as "democratic" -- but bullying, threats, intimidation, harassment, and extortion are not democracy, my friends. What are they? Mafia-ocracy.
Democracy is degenerating into mafia-ocracy, and mafia-ocracy goes something like this.
- Step one: intimidation. "Listen. Wise up. Do what's good for you. Do what we say! Or else!" Or else what?
- Step two: threat. "Or else well it'd be a shame if something happened to that nice democracy you've got there!" Like what?
- Step three: violence. "People might just rise up. You might get hurt, you know. In fact, it's pretty likely. It's not what we want, of course. But "
- Step four: victim blaming. But what? "It's what you'll make happen!" Me? Wait: what will I make happen?
- Step five: dominance. "What's coming to you, if you thwart us! Nobody can blame us, after all -- it's your fault! For not doing what's good for you!"
What the? Do you see the bizarre contradictory logic? The pattern? I see it every single day now, in Anglo politics. You're quite right if it reminds you of abusive relationships -- it is one, at a social scale. If the sudden proliferation of angry, bellowing men in ill-fitting suits, sneering and jeering with dull, brutish expressions, isn't evidence enough, first let me give you a few concrete examples.
Brexiters -- the politicians -- explicitly invoke this chain of logic. They warn of all kinds of things if their wish isn't carried through -- everything from mass civil unrest to riots to all out war. Riots? War? Really? Brexiters -- the individuals -- explicitly say: "I'll never vote again!", as if to reinforce the threat, that they'll resort to cruder means of carrying out their wishes. Or maybe you read, as I read, recently, that chants of "AOC sucks!" broke out at a recent rally -- adding to the usual "Lock her up!" Do I really need to explain how those exemplify the logic above?
The logic above, my friends, has no place in a democracy. You see, a democracy is not a place for any of the above. When the line is crossed, we're not really practicing democracy anymore. What are we practicing?
All the above is the logic every mafia from the beginning of time has used to extort, shake down, bully, harass, and destabilize. "Sure be a shame if something happened to that nice democracy you got there. Who knows what might end up happening? It'd be your fault, though."
Do you see what's happening here? Here's what that logic isn't. Policy. Vision. Ideas. An agenda. A plan to deal with real problems. Laws to expand freedom, justice, and equality. The line above -- the essence of mafia-ocracy -- is outside the bounds of democracy.
Democracies were centered around "parliaments" for a very good reason. "Parliament" literally means "talking it out." But we are not talking our issues out if you are threatening me. If you are trying to intimidate me. If you are victim blaming me for the implied violence you will do me.
We are "talking it out" in democracies when we discuss issues of substance. Issues of, as Americans say, "policy." What is "policy"? Have you ever thought about it? "Policy" is just something like: 'laws we hope to make to solve very real problems in our society." Policy is not: "ways I will intimidate and punish you for failing to obey me." If that is what policy is, we are not in a democracy anymore, my friends.
Where are we? We are in a twilight zone between authoritarianism, fascism, and false democracy, democracy used as a weapon. That is why I call it mafia-ocracy. It is the institutions of democracy used for anti-democratic purposes, to destroy and shatter democracy.
You can use a "parliament", a place to "talk it out", to issue threats and intimate and bully. Just as you can use a local street to intimidate and extort shop-owners. But just as that mafias stalking shop owners is not legitimate commerce, but only harassment, so too, threats and intimidation in parliaments or other democratic fora (like town halls or rallies and so on) are not democracy. Do you see the parallel I am drawing?
Mafia-ocracy uses the institutions of democracy as weapons. Its intent is to destroy the very essentials of true democracy. There are three. Freedom, equality, and justice. But when the Brexiter or Trumpist says, "Hey, there might be riots, upheaval, a civil war -- and it's your fault. Why don't you just give in?", those three things are being undermined.
There is less equality, every time that one group in society uses threats and intimidation to overpower others. There is less freedom, every time one group in society threatens another with violence or harm to get their way. And there is less justice when these things happen, of course, too -- in enduring ways.
In that way, mafia-ocracy is a strange thing, a new thing. It isn't quite classical authoritarianism or fascism -- it's democracy weaponized. It's using the basic institutions of democracy, Congresses, the idea of "parliament", town halls, courts, and so forth, to tear democracies apart, as weapons for one group to overpower all the others, with threats, intimidation, bullying, and harassment.
Hence, it's supporters can call it "democracy" -- and usually do. Nobody has taught them that a democracy has red lines -- within them lie issues of substance, policy, and outside them lie the threat, the wish to harm, the intimidation, the intent to do real injury. Nobody seems to have taught the true believers of mafia-ocracy that trying to extort and shake down their neighbors and colleagues isn't democracy -- but it's undoing.
And why would anyone be surprised by that? The forces that rule our world -- capitalism, neoliberalism, supremacy -- all these say: the strong survive, and the weak perish, and that's fair, right, and just. Everyone for themselves. You're predator or prey, burden or "self-reliant" indvidual", somebody -- or nobody. It's not a surprise, given this binary logic that much of the world is turning to Mafia-ocracy. They're only really doing what capitalism, neoliberalism, and supremacy have taught them is perfectly acceptable, legitimate, even morally right: the shakedown, the threat, bullying, extorting.
Hence, the striking parallels of Brexit and Trumpism. Both are movements where the idea that we should bully, intimidate, threaten, and shake down our neighbours -- both inside and outside our societies -- is the right, best, necessary, and only thing to do. If we cannot do it -- we might be the weak ones, and they might be the strong ones. We might be the prey, and they might be the predators.
Hence, democracy used as a weapon, as a hammer -- one that destroys freedom, justice, and equality, not to mention trust, decency, and humanity, in the aggressive search for the power to abuse, demean, dehumanize, and devalue.
Because, my friends, when we threaten, intimidate, and vilify, that is what we are really doing: we are saying that you are not really as human as I am. Therefore, I deserve to have more power than you. That is the only logic whereby one can conclude: "you made me do it! It's your fault I hurt you!"
"It's your fault I hurt you!" Is also, of course, the logic of the abuser. Abusers believe they are more than perfectly justified -- it's something like their moral duty to abuse their victims. "It's your fault I hurt you!" also means "you're better off being being hurt!" This rule out the possibility of a genuine relationship of equals, seeking greaterfreedom, granting each other justice -- which is what democracy really is. Just as a democratic relationship is not an abusive one, so too an abusive society is not a democratic one -- no matter how much the abusers cry that it is.
Again, it's not a surprise that the dynamics of abuse have gone mega-scale, have come to conquer even our political systems, have corroded our democracies. That's because, again, capitalism, neoliberalism, and supremacy all justify abuse -- treat it as a duty. Not paying your workers as little as possible? Letting them have bathroom breaks? You're violating your duty to shareholders! Abuse is hardwired into capitalism because the division into people who "own" things and people who don't of course creates power imbalances that cannot yield freedom, equality, or justice, only abuse. It's not a surprise, then, that the abused have become abusive. It is all they have ever known -- the quest for the power to abuse, when they were not being abused themselves. Can anyone teach there is a different world?
Mafia-ocracy is democracy being used as a weapon, abusive relationships going mega-scale, threats, intimidation, extortion, regarded as legitimate forms of democratic discourse, "It's your fault I hurt you! You made me do it!!" What it isn't is democracy.
Democracy is a lever, not a hammer. When democracy is used as a hammer, it is not democracy at all. The lever lifts. Democracy is greater freedom, justice, equality, by "talking it out", parlez, parley. If we are at the point that me telling you: "You are going to make me hurt you, for your own good, and it will be all your fault!", then, my friends, we are not upholding the great tradition and enacting the sacred and noble idea of democracy. We are becoming little versions of the mafias who have abused us all our lives long -- even if we have been taught to call them "elites."
Dec 20, 2018 | www.nytimes.com
The president and the senator both want you to know that our system is "rigged."
... ... ...
For decades, the left sought to dethrone the idea of truth. Truth was not an absolute. It was a matter of power. Of perspective. Of narrative. "Truth is a thing of this world," wrote Michel Foucault. "Each society has its regime of truth, its 'general politics' of truth: that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true."
Then Kellyanne Conway gave us "alternative facts" and Rudy Giuliani said, " Truth isn't truth" -- and progressives rushed to defend the inviolability of facts and truth.
For decades, the left sought to dethrone reverence for the Constitution. "The Constitution," wrote progressive historian Howard Zinn, "serves the interests of a wealthy elite" and enables "the elite to keep control with a minimum of coercion, a maximum of law -- all made palatable by the fanfare of patriotism and unity."
Then Donald Trump attacked freedom of the press and birthright citizenship, and flouted the emoluments clause, and assailed the impartiality of the judiciary. And progressives rediscovered the treasure that is our Constitutional inheritance.
... ... ...
To an audience of nearly 500 new graduates and their families at the historically black college, the Massachusetts senator laid out a bleak vision of America. "The rules are rigged because the rich and powerful have bought and paid for too many politicians," she said. "The rich and powerful want us pointing fingers at each other so we won't notice they are getting richer and more powerful," she said. "Two sets of rules: one for the wealthy and the well-connected. And one for everybody else," she said.
"That's how a rigged system works," she said.
It was a curious vision coming from a person whose life story, like that of tens millions of Americans who have risen far above their small beginnings, refutes her own thesis. It was curious, also, coming from someone who presumably believes that various forms of rigging are required to un-rig past rigging. Affirmative action in college admissions and aggressive minority recruitment in corporations are also forms of "rigging."
But however one feels about various types of rigging, the echo of Trump was unmistakable. "It's being proven we have a rigged system," the president said at one of his rallies last year . "Doesn't happen so easy. But this system -- gonna be a lot of changes. This is a rigged system."
Trump's claim that the system is rigged represents yet another instance of his ideological pickpocketing of progressives. From C. Wright Mills ("The Power Elite") to Noam Chomsky ("Manufacturing Consent"), the animating belief of the far left has been, as Tom Hayden put it, that we live in a "false democracy," controlled by an unaccountable, deceitful and shadowy elite. Trump has names for it: the globalists; the deep state; the fake news. Orange, it turns out, is the new red.
Of course, Warren and Trump have very different ideas as to just who the malefactors of great wealth really are. Is it Sheldon Adelson or George Soros? The Koch brothers or the Ford Foundation? Posterity will be forgiven if it loses track of which alleged conspiracy to rig the system was of the far-right and which was of the far left.
What it will remember is that here was another era in which a president and one of his leading opponents abandoned the prouder traditions of American politics in favor of paranoid ones. Compare Warren's grim message to Bill Clinton's sunny one from his first inaugural: "There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America."
At some point, it will be worth asking Senator Warren: Rigged compared to when? A generation ago a black president would have been unthinkable. Two generations ago, a woman on the Supreme Court. And rigged compared to what? Electoral politics in Japan, which have been dominated by a single party for decades? The class system in Brazil, dominated by a single race for centuries?
Bret L. Stephens has been an Opinion columnist with The Times since April 2017. He won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary at The Wall Street Journal in 2013 and was previously editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post.Larry Bennett Cooperstown NY Dec. 20, 2018 Times Pick
Warren is saying the system is rigged to suppress the middle class and poor in favor of the wealthy, which is easy to substantiate. Trump is saying the system is rigged to suppress the white right, which is easy to refute. One statement is an economic fact, the other is a racist trope. There is no equivalence here. ScottW Chapel Hill, NC Dec. 20, 2018
Sen. Warren supports Medicare for All, meaningful banking/financial regulations, regulations that benefit consumers, a living wage, etc. Trump supports none of these policies--not a one. Trying to equate Trump with Warren is just stupid.
Terry Gilbert, AZ Dec. 20, 2018 Times Pick
Comparing Elizabeth Warren to Trump is disingenuous. Trump is just ranting and defensive, without any evidence to back up his claims. What Elizabeth Warren is saying is just a matter of paying attention. I don't need to list all the ways in which money buys everything in politics. It's always a matter of following the money. Bret Stephens conveniently avoids looking at economics. His supposed counterexamples are at best irrelevant to the issue: We've had a black President. We have women on the Supreme Court. How are those examples proof that the system isn't rigged in favor of the wealthy and corporations? No doubt he thinks Plutocracy is part of the natural order of things. He should go back to the Wall Street Journal where his myopia is more appropriate. MarnS Nevada Dec. 20, 2018 Times Pick
Unfortunately Bret there are no "optimists" in the GOP, including yourself being one who has bounced back and forth in your positions regarding the Trump presidency. Though you have found your way on CNN or MSNBC spouting your disappointments about the state of the nation, the fact remains is that your a hardened, right wing opinion writer who may have less of an ideal when it comes to America being a democratic nation. No, you can conveniently ignore the actions of your conservative party in there gerrymandering, in their changing the rules for governors of the Democrat persuasion, or gross deliberate voter suppression that has placed your party in power positions by, in effect, stealing elections. You are a writer with a forked tongue trying, at times in a passive manner, to separate yourself from Trump, and the evilness of the current GOP Party without understanding that the definition of "conservative" has changed to the radical. And that is documented by your writings in the WSJ. Yet, you cannot even dream about truly being on the left side of an argument other than beating your breast with the fact that the GOP has disappeared, as we have known it, in the hands of radicalism (which prior to Trump you participated in the escalation of radical conservatism), and your party can never be revived as it once was...and we all pray it never will be so.
JPM Hays, KS Dec. 20, 2018 Times Pick
This analysis completely ignores the outrageous, overarching influence of money and financial privilege over American politics. Equating Bill Clinton's dalliance with Trump's disrespect for all norms of decency and the truth? Please. Warren is right. Just look at the legislative obscenity of the recent tax bill and then try and equivocate they left and the right. I am not buying this false equivalency.
Patrick Schenectady Dec. 20, 2018 Times Pick
FYI, Foucault was offering critiques of "regimes of truth," not of truth itself. That's very different. Like most historians, he spent an impressive amount of time in archives where he collected evidence in order to write books that give truthful accounts of the past. You make a caricature of Foucault, and then of the entire left.
Rich Casagrande Slingerlands, NY Dec. 20, 2018 Times Pick
Please, Elizabeth Warren is nothing like Trump. She's a brilliant, honest, tireless fighter for ordinary Americans. She wants a fair shake for them, just as FDR wanted a fair shake -- a "New Deal" -- for our Country. While much of the rest of the world was turning to communism or fascism, FDR saved American capitalism by shaking it up. Oh how we could use a large dose of that today.
WDP Long Island Dec. 20, 2018 Times Pick
Whoa! Line by line, Mr Stephens offers statements that are way off base and should be refuted. Are you saying you disagree with Warren? Do you think the "system" in America for the last 400 years has not been generally "rigged" against African-Americans? But the gist of his column, and the main argument of conservatives these days, is that the left and the right are equally out of line; that what the right says and does may be bad, but the left does the same sort of thing and is just as bad. This is not true Bret, and you know it. The left desperately tries to find the high road, and anyone who supports Trump these days or believes in most of his policies is either someone who has abandoned morality or is a fool. And that is the truth, Bret.
Hannacroix Cambridge, MA Dec. 20, 2018 Times Pick
Calling out our system as "rigged" is nothing new for Sen. Warren. She's been stating that publicly since being a regular Bill Moyer's guest on his PBS program 20 years ago -- and clearly already on a "prep for national politics" stump. What undercuts her own integrity regarding "rigged" is that she chose, after much wait & anticipation, to throw her support to Hillary Clinton in the summer of 2016. Not Bernie Sanders. She knew HRC had little integrity. And it's highly likely she knew the DNC primary was rigged in favor of Clinton -- as it's widely been proven.
My point here highlights one of several reasons why Sen. Warren is unelectable in the 2020 presidential general election. This is not to compare her in any way to Trump -- he's a venal, disturbed & dangerous traitor to our country. However, if winning the WH in 2020 is the goal, Elizabeth Warren ain't got the goods to get the necessary votes across our Republic.
Longestaffe Pickering Dec. 20, 2018 Times Pick
There's a good case to be made that the far left exists in two separate dimensions. I offer myself in evidence. Among the policies and social changes I advocate: Medicare for all Aggressively progressive taxation.
I don't recognize any freedom to corner as much wealth as one can while other people must labor at two or three jobs just to feed their families on peanut butter.
I do think there's a bit of rigging afoot. Restrictions on the ownership of firearms comparable to those in Japan.
A society free from all forms of identity discrimination or prejudice. I'm bitterly opposed to racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia; any example you care to give, including those without short handles, such as prejudice against Muslims or transgender people.
Yes, I know I have this in common with decent conservatives, but I'm thinking of partisan realities in the US today. I should add that I don't mind the prospect of WASPS like me becoming just another minority.
But-- I can't picture myself as a socialist -- hair combed straight back, and all that.
The rigorously progressive personality type rubs me the wrong way. Leftist cant grates on every fiber of my being. Che Guevara T-shirts make the lip curl. When my knee jerks, it jerks against things like that old leftist conceit that truth is what you make it. I look at the far-left agenda and see a lot to like. I look at the far-left milieu and see didactic arrogance, frigidity, and pat attitudes. I'm a Democrat in disarray.
John Wilson Maine Dec. 20, 2018 Times Pick
The so-called "left" in America (moderates anywhere else on the globe) have never varied from saying that money = power. They still say that today, and raise money like crazy for candidates thereby proving their own point.
Conservatives in America (far-right extremists anywhere else on the globe) are much quieter about the influence of dough, but raise money like crazy for candidates thereby proving the "left's" point.
Reality? Money in America is everything. Period. Just try to run for office, influence policy, and/or change the direction of the country as a sole, intelligent, concerned poor person and see how far you get.
Dec 21, 2018 | www.unz.com
In itself, criminal justice reform for non-violent offenders is not anathema to Trump's libertarian supporters (check).
For what it symbolizes in the broader political context, however, the passing of the First Step Act -- as the criminal justice reform bill is called -- is a bit of an abomination.
Good or bad, the First Step Act is Jared Kushner's baby. And Kushner, Trump's liberal son-in-law, should not be having legislative coups!
Yes, Jared and Ivanka are on a tear. The midterm congressional elections of President Trump's first-term have culminated in a legislative victory for an anemic man, who provides a perfect peg on which to hang the forceful first daughter's ambition.
In no time at all have Jared and Ivanka Trump moved to consolidate power. This, as intellects like the Steven Bannon and Stephen Miller were either fired, or confined to the basement, so to speak.
Today, Bannon is just a flinty glint in Ivanka's eyes. But by January, 2017, the president's former White House chief strategist had already "assembled a list of more than 200 executive orders to issue in the first 100 days. The very first EO, in his view, had to be a crackdown on immigration. After all, it was one of Trump's core campaign promises." So said Bannon to Michael Wolff, author of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House .
Many a pundit has suggested that Trump give a kick-ass rah-rah address to explain immigration to the nation.
Nonsense on stilts. The Make America Great Again (S.O.S.) agenda needed to be explained daily and repetitively by someone with a brain. It should have been MAGA every morning with Steve Miller, or Gen. John Kelly or Kirstjen Nielsen. Instead, we got stumblebum Sarah Huckabee issuing a meek, meandering daily apologia.
About that promise to put in place only "the best of people": Ice princess Kirstjen Nielsen is super smart with a cool temperament and looks to match. Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen had been brought into the Trump Administration by retired United States Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, formerly White House chief of staff. Nielsen might not be optimal in her current position. But she would've made a great MAGA mouthpiece.
It's quite clear that President Trump's promise to hire only "the best" ought to have begun with firing The Family. Instead, Mr. Kushner's national security portfolio has expanded in a manner incommensurate with his skills. It now includes, I believe, China, Mexico, Iraq, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The same can be said of Ivanka, who was soon briefing the South Korean president on sanctions against North Korea. That Ivanka lacked a permanent security clearance was the least of the country's worries, given Steve Bannon's assessment of her cerebral acuity: "as dumb as a brick" .
Alas, political connections ensured that two branding experts beat Braveheart Bannon of the mighty Breitbart.com! "'The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over," he lamented, in August of 2017.
If Breitbart.com is to be believed -- and it should -- Ivanka was the one to give Bannon the boot (or, rather, the Choo ): "Trump's daughter Ivanka pushed Bannon out because of his 'far-right views' clashing with her [recently acquired] Jewish faith." (Funny that, because my own rightist views clash not at all with my Jewish faith.)
"Jarvanka" (the Jared-Ivanka organism) were also said to have orchestrated the ousting of the last of the old MAGA Guard, John Kelly, aforementioned, a most excellent man. Kelly took his role as chief of staff seriously. He was a hardliner who limited Ivanka's access to Pater.
One of Trump's superb personnel choices, Kelly's fate, however, was sealed when he stated how sick-and-tired he was of the first daughter "playing government." The Goldman-Sachs wing of the White House, commandeered by the Kushners, had always wished him away. So, Kelly got the Choo , too.
Of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, archconservative Heather Mac Donald observed the following: Sessions was "the only member of the Trump administration who was absolutely staunch in speaking up for the right of Americans to determine what the character of their country should be."
It takes a strong woman (Mac Donald) to recognize a scheming one. Mac Donald has recently expressed "'no confidence' that the president will stop being advised by his daughter, Ivanka Trump, on the issue of immigration."
Following the midterms, the not-so-sleepy sleeper cell of leftist social climbers in the Trump administration moved to pack the court. It was out with the old (Kelly and Sessions), and in with the Nauert, the reference being to the "nomination [to the UN] of former Fox anchor and State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert."
Again, the reason for selecting Ms. Nauert, a former "Fox & Friends" host, was that she is "telegenic." The order came from " Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner [ who declared Nauert] 'a favorite and pushed for her selection.'"
Telegenic, too, is 36-year-old Nick Ayers. He was slated to replace Gen. Kelly. Why? Because he " had the endorsements of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump ."
It so happened that Ayers chose not to play. A trial balloon was quickly floated, but was punctured just as fast. The idea that Jared would be chief of staff was just too preposterous. But oh, the audacity of that fleeting experiment!
So, here we are. The promised land (America) is without the promised Wall. But, liberal legislation in hand, the "Honorable" Kushners ( so listed ) are off to hobnob at the World Economic Forum in Davos, in January of 2019 .
First Lady Melania has been shoved aside, or ceremonially shivved, to use prison parlance. The first couple in-waiting will get to press flesh with local and global elites, while flashing their liberal credentials: criminal justice reform.
Oh how fun it is to schmooze the gilded globalists, rather than to woo Trump voters.
Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of " Into the Cannibal's Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa " (2011) & " The Trump Revolution: The Donald's Creative Destruction Deconstructed " (June, 2016). She's on Twitter , Facebook , Gab & YouTube
Mar 25, 2019 | jewishbusinessnews.com
The thirty three year old member of the Kushner real estate family, Jared Kushner , is married to Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump's daughter. His Kushner Companies and Donald Trump's Trump Organization have announced plans for a joint venture to build a 447 unit rental apartment building in Jersey City, New Jersey.
The new development is located next to Trump Plaza Residences at 88 Morgan Street, a 55-story condominium completed six years ago. It will be called Trump Bay Street and is expected to cost $193.5 million.
The two companies will be joined by the KABR Group of New Jersey.
The site went through a series of owners during the recession before being purchased by the Kushner and KABR partnership. Kushner chose to use the Trump name due to the success of the neighboring Trump Plaza. They bought the debt on the property for $6 million in 2011. It was valued at $35 million at the time.
Kushner-KABR will be putting up $38.5 million of its own equity for the project, according to reports. Another $90 million will be acquired through a construction loan and another $65 million will come from a mezzanine loan tied to a Federal visa program. This was reported in the Wall Street Journal.
The Journal says that the details of Trump Organization's involvement in the development have not yet been made public. Donald Trump told the Wall Street Journal, ""Jared is a very talented young man. It is going to be a great project."
Mar 01, 2029 | www.bloomberg.com
Senators, Please Ask Jared Kushner About 666 Fifth Avenue A Chinese financier has pulled out of a bailout for Trump's son-in-law. Now let's talk about his meetings with a Russian bank.
In a happy moment in the otherwise cloudy world of the Trump family and the flood of financial conflicts they've carted into Washington, a major Chinese investor has decided not to pour billions of dollars into a Manhattan skyscraper owned by the Jared Kushner clan.
Had this deal gone forward -- the effect would have been to bail Kushner out of a huge, misbegotten investment while letting his family take home at least $400 million and retain a minority ownership stake in the building -- it would have compromised President Donald Trump's diplomacy with China.
The background: Anbang, an insurer and prolific deal-maker close to China's government, had considered investing $4 billion in 666 Fifth Avenue. Kushner had overpaid for the building in 2007, when he bought it with the help of bank loans for $1.8 billion. The financial crisis ensued, occupancy rates plummeted and Kushner had to be rescued by outside investors to keep the troubled building afloat. Anbang's investment would have valued the building at a handsome $2.85 billion, and also refinanced about $1.15 billion in debt.
The possibility of a transaction brought scrutiny from two Bloomberg news reporters, Caleb Melby and David Kocieniewski, as well as from Congress and the New York Times . I discussed it in a column here two weeks ago. And for good reason: Kushner is a senior White House adviser who has Trump's ear on foreign policy. The math of Trump's 36-year-old son-in-law being saved from a reckless investment by China presented all sorts of conflicts of interest and the potential for disastrous policy moves by the White House.
So Anbang is now gone and all has been made right? Well, no.
Kushner's family still owns a building that needs a financial lifeline, so 666 Fifth Avenue presents something that Congress may want to examine more closely when Jared Kushner meets with the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of an inquiry into possible collusion between Trump's campaign team and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also investigating the Trump-Russia connection, its director, James Comey, confirmed during a congressional hearing last week. There has been no suggestion that Kushner is part of the FBI probe, but the Senate's decision to question him makes him, as the Times pointed out when it broke the story of Kushner's upcoming testimony, "the closest person to the president to be called upon in any of the investigations, and the only one currently serving in the White House."
Kushner's meetings with Russian bankers during the presidential transition last fall and winter apparently help explain why the Senate is interested in speaking with him.
The timeline matters. Kushner began talking with Chinese investors about 666 Fifth Avenue last summer, around the time that Trump locked up the Republican nomination. Then he spearheaded more serious talks that took place in New York about a week after his father-in-law was elected in November.
According to the Times, Kushner met with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, in early December as part of what appeared to be normal presidential transition meetings. A second Kislyak meeting with a Kushner deputy followed in December, as well as another, brokered by Kislyak, between Kushner and the head of a Russian bank, Vnesheconombank. The U.S. had imposed financial sanctions on that bank because of Russian President Vladimir Putin's military incursions in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.
Vnesheconombank has close ties to the Kremlin and its chief executive, Sergey Gorkov, attended a training academy for members of Russia's security and intelligence services.
A Trump spokeswoman described Kushner's meetings with the Russians as routine, which they may have been given his role at the time as Trump's liaison to foreign powers.
But given how important 666 Fifth Avenue was for Kushner at the time, it's also possible that he saw the Russians as potential investors alongside the Chinese. Or as financial backups should the Chinese walk away from a deal.
The Times, citing a government source, said that the Senate plans to ask Kushner if financial help for 666 Fifth was part of his chats with Gorkov and Vnesheconombank.
Kushner's responses to questions about Russian and Chinese financing for his family's building may clarify what inspired him to negotiate so diligently with foreign lenders at a time when he surely understood the negotiating value of having his father-in-law on the cusp of assuming power in the White House.
His appearance in the Senate will also offer a chance to quiz him about the intersection of personal financial dealings and public policymaking. That's an issue that remains troubling because Kushner, and his wife Ivanka Trump, and the president himself, have avoided adequately separating themselves from their private business interests even as they wield power.
Aug 28, 2018
Family real estate company fined $210,000 for filing fake construction permits by New York City regulators as tenants rights watchdog says former Trump lawyer engaged in same practice. Earlier this week, the city's Department of Buildings fined Kushner Companies a total of $210,000 (Ł163,00) for 42 instances in which it says the company falsified construction permits at 17 residential buildings, where many of the tenants were protected by rent regulations from steep rent increases and eviction.
Cohen may not be the only one involved in campaign finance violations. A spokeswoman for Kushner Companies said that the violations were "paperwork errors". The company can contest the citations before an administrative judge.
"In no case did the company act in disregard of the safety of our tenants," said Christine Taylor.
Tenant activists also issued a report based on city and state records that suggested that an investment group led by Mr Cohen had also falsified construction permits by claiming that three buildings in Manhattan were vacant or without rent-regulated tenants, when they were occupied and many tenants had rental protections.
Landlords are required in New York City to disclose whether tenants in their buildings are rent regulated to obtain a construction permit. This requirement is designed to safeguard rent-regulated tenants from harassment.
Unscrupulous landlords sometimes push out rent-protected tenants so they can sharply increase rents on those units.
Mar 25, 2019 | www.nytimes.com
In a deal that eases the financial pressure on the Kushner Companies, Brookfield Asset Management said on Friday that it had taken a 99-year lease on 666 Fifth Avenue, the troubled Midtown tower owned by the family of Donald Trump's son-in-law.
Jared Kushner, now a top White House adviser, paid a record-setting $1.8 billion for the building in 2007, and it has been a drag on his family's real estate company ever since.
The deal, in which Brookfield paid the rent for the entire 99-year term upfront, helps remove the family's biggest financial headache: a $1.4 billion mortgage on the office portion of the tower that was due in February next year. The Kushners have spent more than two years on an international search for new partners or fresh financing that stretched from the Middle East to China.
The deal would enable the Kushners to pay off at least a large portion of what they owe lenders and retain ownership of the land beneath the tower. But they may not make any money from it.
While the deal relieves some of the Kushners' troubles, difficulties persist across their real estate empire, at least in part because of their connection to the White House. "If you do business with the Kushners, there's a headline reality," said Kenneth Pasternak, executive chairman of the real-estate firm KABR Group and an investing partner of the Kushner family in multiple developments. "I don't want to say it's a headline risk," he added. "There's a headline reality."
In the 666 Fifth Avenue deal, Brookfield paid about $1.1 billion in upfront rent, according to an executive who requested anonymity because he had been briefed on the deal but was not authorized to discuss it. Charles Kushner, Jared's father, who now runs the company, in turn, negotiated with his lenders to pay less than the company owed to satisfy the debts, the executive said.
Analysts have long said that 666 Fifth was worth less than its debts. The building was 30 percent vacant and only generated about half the annual mortgage payments. In recent months, the building's largest remaining tenant, Millennium Management, signaled that it too planned to leave.
A spokeswoman for Kushner Companies declined to comment on the Brookfield deal.
The purchase of the aluminum-clad tower was intended to vault the Kushners into the top ranks of New York real estate from their perch in New Jersey, where they were known for a huge portfolio of garden apartment complexes. They moved their company headquarters to 666 Fifth, from where they presided over a new and rapidly expanding empire that included former industrial buildings in Brooklyn, apartments in Maryland and development sites in Jersey City, N.J.
But they ran into trouble almost immediately. They were unable to get the office rents they expected in 2007, making it difficult to pay the initial $1.75 billion debt on the building. Then the recession hit.
Apr 12, 2017 | thesaker.isThe thought occurred to me, what if Trump did this as a "give them enough rope to hang themselves" maneuver, where he "finds out" the chemical attack intelligence was false, and then goes after everyone who pushed it, "you're fired", as well as the each media that beat the celebratory war drums, as a showcase of "fake news" examples. That would sure catch them off guard, ha. But I don't think Trump is that Machiavellian, more like a real estate salesperson than a chess master. But that idea, if applied, might save Trump from the trap he is in, and turn things around, no?
Trump's man could visit Moscow and say, yeah it looked bad but we did it to get the hawks feeding the president false intelligence to out themselves so we could fire them using the fabricated intelligence as the reason, and also to identify the honest brokers who held firm. Surely a good way to find out who your friends are vs who works for the Machine. But again, i don't see it likely unless someone suggested to Trump, and even then very unlikely to pan out when Trump is so surrounded by folks of the opposite persuasion.
Anonymous on April 11, 2017 , · at 2:33 am UTCWell, live in hope but plan for the alternative.HDan on April 11, 2017 , · at 2:20 pm UTCThe dog wiggles not through his tale. I'm also getting more and more the impression Trump is done for. He is now a doll, and the Handlers will fully unleash it onto the World, in the fashion .now let's see what happens if we turn this knob fully counter clockwise what will our nice little rag doll doGabriel the Seagull on April 11, 2017 , · at 5:16 pm UTCThat's exactly what I'm "concentrating" on being the "probable outcome" of all thisWhite whale on April 11, 2017 , · at 11:59 pm UTC
Really keeping fingers crossed like a fool but sometimes dreams come true.
Give them some rope to see how far they will go then, hang them "you're fired" with their own decisions and false news.
Standing with all of you folksTrump theatrically sends a 59-missile tweet, and four "beautiful babies" in Syria become "collateral damage". ***
Several billion people take a sharp intake of breath and say: WTF?
A trillion collective hours are spent analysing, deconstructing, psychoanalysing:
WHYdid he do this, and why now?
Now we know.
Ivanka got upset watching a piece of Wag the Dog nonsense and begged daddy to blow up the "bad guys".
Good to know, now that the world is standing at the very precipice of thermo-nuclear war, it's because Daddy's princess couldn't determine the difference between a Disneyesque cartoon and the diabolical mass-death a real "sarin" attack would precipitate.
****to paraphrase (and contort) Orwell, all "beautiful babies" are equal, but some beautiful babies just have to die if they are obstructing American "interests"
Sep 18, 2018 | lrb.co.ukOne might object that Trump, a billionaire TV star, does not resemble his followers. But this misses the powerful intimacy that he establishes with them, at rallies, on TV and on Twitter. Part of his malicious genius lies in his ability to forge a bond with people who are otherwise excluded from the world to which he belongs. Even as he cast Hillary Clinton as the tool of international finance, he said:
I do deals – big deals – all the time. I know and work with all the toughest operators in the world of high-stakes global finance. These are hard-driving, vicious cut-throat financial killers, the kind of people who leave blood all over the boardroom table and fight to the bitter end to gain maximum advantage.
With these words he brought his followers into the boardroom with him and encouraged them to take part in a shared, cynical exposure of the soiled motives and practices that lie behind wealth. His role in the Birther movement, the prelude to his successful presidential campaign, was not only racist, but also showed that he was at home with the most ignorant, benighted, prejudiced people in America. Who else but a complete loser would engage in Birtherism, so far from the Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Harvard aura that elevated Obama, but also distanced him from the masses?
The consistent derogation of Trump in the New York Times or on MSNBC may be helpful in keeping the resistance fired up, but it is counterproductive when it comes to breaking down the Trump coalition. His followers take every attack on their leader as an attack on them. 'The fascist leader's startling symptoms of inferiority', Adorno wrote, 'his resemblance to ham actors and asocial psychopaths', facilitates the identification, which is the basis of the ideal. On the Access Hollywood tape, which was widely assumed would finish him, Trump was giving voice to a common enough daydream, but with 'greater force' and greater 'freedom of libido' than his followers allow themselves. And he was bolstering the narcissism of the women who support him, too, by describing himself as helpless in the grip of his desires for them.
Adorno also observed that demagoguery of this sort is a profession, a livelihood with well-tested methods. Trump is a far more familiar figure than may at first appear. The demagogue's appeals, Adorno wrote, 'have been standardised, similarly to the advertising slogans which proved to be most valuable in the promotion of business'. Trump's background in salesmanship and reality TV prepared him perfectly for his present role. According to Adorno,
the leader can guess the psychological wants and needs of those susceptible to his propaganda because he resembles them psychologically, and is distinguished from them by a capacity to express without inhibitions what is latent in them, rather than by any intrinsic superiority.
To meet the unconscious wishes of his audience, the leader
simply turns his own unconscious outward Experience has taught him consciously to exploit this faculty, to make rational use of his irrationality, similarly to the actor, or a certain type of journalist who knows how to sell their sensitivity.
All he has to do in order to make the sale, to get his TV audience to click, or to arouse a campaign rally, is exploit his own psychology.
Using old-fashioned but still illuminating language, Adorno continued:
The leaders are generally oral character types, with a compulsion to speak incessantly and to befool the others. The famous spell they exercise over their followers seems largely to depend on their orality: language itself, devoid of its rational significance, functions in a magical way and furthers those archaic regressions which reduce individuals to members of crowds.
Since uninhibited associative speech presupposes at least a temporary lack of ego control, it can indicate weakness as well as strength. The agitators' boasting is frequently accompanied by hints of weakness, often merged with claims of strength. This was particularly striking, Adorno wrote, when the agitator begged for monetary contributions. As with the Birther movement or Access Hollywood, Trump's self-debasement – pretending to sell steaks on the campaign trail – forges a bond that secures his idealised status.
Since 8 November 2016, many people have concluded that what they understandably view as a catastrophe was the result of the neglect by neoliberal elites of the white working class, simply put. Inspired by Bernie Sanders, they believe that the Democratic Party has to reorient its politics from the idea that 'a few get rich first' to protection for the least advantaged.
Yet no one who lived through the civil rights and feminist rebellions of recent decades can believe that an economic programme per se is a sufficient basis for a Democratic-led politics.
This holds as well when it comes to trying to reach out to Trump's supporters. Of those providing his roughly 40 per cent approval ratings, half say they 'strongly approve' and are probably lost to the Democrats. But if we understand the personal level at which pro-Trump strivings operate, we may better appeal to the other half, and in that way forestall the coming emergency.
Mar 24, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Ken , Mar 23, 2019 2:09:31 PM | link
Back in November of 2016, the American people were so fed up with the neoliberal oligarchy that everyone knows really runs the country that they actually elected Donald Trump president. They did this fully aware that Trump was a repulsive, narcissistic ass clown who bragged about "grabbing women by the pussy" and jabbered about building "a big, beautiful wall" and making the Mexican government pay for it. They did this fully aware of the fact that Donald Trump had zero experience in any political office whatsoever, was a loudmouth bigot, and was possibly out of his gourd on amphetamines half the time. The American people did not care. They were so disgusted with being conned by arrogant, two-faced, establishment stooges like the Clintons, the Bushes, and Barack Obama that they chose to put Donald Trump in office, because, fuck it, what did they have to lose?
The oligarchy that runs the country responded to the American people's decision by inventing a completely cock-and-bull story about Donald Trump being a Russian agent who the American people were tricked into voting for by nefarious Russian mind-control operatives, getting every organ of the liberal corporate media to disseminate and relentlessly promote this story on a daily basis for nearly three years, and appointing a special prosecutor to conduct an official investigation in order to lend it the appearance of legitimacy. Every component of the ruling establishment (i.e., the government, the media, the intelligence agencies, the liberal intelligentsia, et al.) collaborated in an unprecedented effort to remove an American president from office based on a bunch of made-up horseshit which kind of amounts to an attempted soft coup.
This is the story Donald Trump is going to tell the American people.
GeorgeV , Mar 23, 2019 2:13:42 PM | linkIt now appears that the world will see that the so-called "Russia Gate" investigation was nothing more than the pro-Clintonista BS that Trump always claimed it was. The Clintons once again, both Bill and Hillary, have managed to raise a vicious, loud mouthed thug in the White House to the status of some kind of martyr. What a country America it is. One thing should be clear however. Any politician or media pundit that towed the pro-Clintonista line should be barred from public office or the media forever.the pair , Mar 23, 2019 2:14:43 PM | link
As for the Clintons, both Bill and Hillary, they should be treated like the creeps they are: corrupt, opportunistic and power hungry. Like Typhoid Mary, they infect everything they touch. There is one difference between Typhoid Mary, and Bill and Hillary: Typhoid Mary didn't realize what she was doing, the Clintons did!sorry to double post, but it just occurred to me that they pulled a classic DC move: if you have something humiliating or horrible to admit, do it on a friday night.ger , Mar 23, 2019 2:16:08 PM | link
i have to wonder if the entire western media is cynically praying for a (coincidentally distracting) school shooting or terrorist attack within the next two days.I have close friends that have been on the MSNBC/Maddow Kool-Ade for years. Constantly declaring Mueller was on the verge of closing in on Trump and associates for treason with the Russians. On Friday night after dinner at our home, the TV was tuned to MSNBC so they could watch their spiritual leader Rachel Maddow....what a pitiful sight (both Maddow and friends). No one was going to jail or be impeached for conspiring with Putin.....how on how could that be true. Putin personally stole the election from Clinton and THEY are just going to let him walk was the declaration a few feet from my chair. Normally, I would recommend grieve counseling, but they are still my friends ... now they can go back to blaming Bernie for Clinton's loss. Maybe I will recommend grieve counseling!DontBelieveEitherPropaganda , Mar 23, 2019 2:27:18 PM | link@dltravers: Apart from the "goyim" you may be right.. But if you want to claim with that Trumps opponents where under the pressure of the Zionists, you got it all wrong man.. ;) No presidents been more under the Zionist thumb than DJT.Nathan Mulcahy , Mar 23, 2019 2:31:06 PM | link
That ofc doesnt make Hillarys Saudi and Muslim brotherhood connections better.. ;)
Anyway, cheers to the end of this BS! And lets hope that Trump has now payed off his debts with Adelson now that he secured Bibis reelection. But dont hold your breath.. ;)"very politician, every media figure, every Twitter pundit and everyone who swallowed this moronic load of bull spunk has officially discredited themselves for life".renfro , Mar 23, 2019 2:56:18 PM | link
I wish so, but that's not how the exceptional nation of US of A works, as demonstrated by the Iraq WMD fiasco case. In fact, very politician, every media figure, every Twitter pundit (about Saddam's WMD" BS) is alive and well, spreading more BS. What is even more depressing is that the huge chunk of this exceptional nation cannot have enough of the BS and is chanting "give me more, give me more...".
Disgusting! sorry for the pessimistic rant.The Dems were stupid to gin up the Russian collusion.BraveNewWorld , Mar 23, 2019 3:00:34 PM | link
However some good things have come out of the investigation. It cost taxpayers 2 million but recouped over 25 million from those convicted of fraud and tax evasion.
And its not over, Mueller has sent 5 to 7 referrals or evidence/witnesses to SDNY, EDNY, DC, EDVA, plus the National Security and Criminal Divisions. These from information turned up crimes unrelated to his Russia probe and allegedly concerning Trump or his family business, a cadre of his advisers and associates. They are being conducted by officials from Los Angeles to Brooklyn.
The bad news is it exposed how wide spread and corrupt the US has become...in private and political circles.
The other bad news is most of the Trump lovers and Trump haters are too stupid to drop their partisan and personal blinders and recognize that ....ITS THE CORRUPTION STUPID.b you have repeatedly made the case that this whole thing was kicked off by the Steele dossier. That is factually incorrect. The first investigation was already running before the dossier ever materialized. That investigation spawned the special prosecutors investigation when Trump fired Comey and then went on TV and said it was because of the Russia investigation. The Russia investigation was originally kicked off by Papadopoulos drinking with the the Australian ambassador and bragging about what the campaign was doing with Russia. Remember the original evidence was presented to the leadership of both the House and the Senate when they were both controlled by the Republican party and every one that was briefed came out on camera and said the Justice dept was doing the right thing in pursuing this.Lozion , Mar 23, 2019 3:09:29 PM | link
I think the Democrats should lose Hillary down a deep hole and not let her near any of the coming campaign events. But this came about because of the actions of the people around Trump. Not because Hillary controls the US government from some secret bunker some where.One could argue Russiagate was on the contrary quite a success. The Elites behind the scheme never believed it would end up with Trump's impeachment. What they did accomplish though is a deflection via "Fake News" from the Dem's election failures & shenanigans and refocus the attention towards the DNC's emerging pedophilia scandals (Weiner, the Podesta's, Alefantis, etc) & suspicious deaths (Seth Rich, etc) towards a dead-end with the added corollary of preventing US/Ru rapprochement for more then half an administration..Blooming Barricade , Mar 23, 2019 3:10:02 PM | linkThe deeply tragic thing about this for the media, the neocons, and the liberals is that they brought it upon themselves by moving the goalposts continuously. If, after Hillary lost, they had stuck to the "Russia hacked WikiLeaks" lie, then they probably have sufficient proof from their perspective and the perspective of most of the public that Russia helped Trump win. In this case it would be remembered by the Democrats like the stolen election of 2000 (albeit the fact that it was a lie this time). They had multiple opportunities to jump off this train. Even the ridiculous DNI report could have been their final play: "Russia helped Trump." Instead of going with 2000 they went with 2001, aka 9-11, with the same neocon fearmongers playing the pipe organ of lies. As soon as they accepted the Steele Dossier, moving the focus to "collusion" they discredited themselves forever. Many of the lead proponents were discredited Iraq war hawks. Except this time it was actually worse because the whole media bought into it. This leaves an interesting conundrum: there were at least some pro-Afghanistan anti-Iraq warmongers who rejected the Bush premise in the media, so they took over the airwaves for about two years before the real swamp creatures returned. This time, it will be harder to issue a mea culpa. They made this appear like 9-11, well, this time the truthers have won, and they are doomed.dh-mtl , Mar 23, 2019 3:11:13 PM | linkSocieties collapse when their systems (institutions) become compromised. When they are no longer capable of meeting the needs of the population, or of adapting to a changing world.English Outsider , Mar 23, 2019 3:27:38 PM | link
Societal systems become compromised when their decision making structures, which are designed to ensure that decisions are taken in the best interest of the society as a whole, are captured by people who have no legitimacy to make the decisions, and who make decisions for the benefit of themselves, at the expense of society as a whole.
Russia-gate is a flagrant example of how the law enforcement and intelligence institutions have been captured. Their top officials, no longer loyal to their country or their institution, but rather to an international elite (including the likes of Soros, the Clintons, and far beyond) have used these institutions in an attempt to delegitimize a constitutionally elected president and to over turn an election. This is no less than treason of the highest order.
Indeed, the actions much of the Washington establishment, as well as a number international actors, since Trump was elected seems suspiciously like one of the 'Color Revolutions' that are visited upon any country who's citizens did not 'vote right' the first time. Over-throw the vote, one way or another, until the result that is wanted is achieved. None of these 'Color Revolutions' has resulted in anything good for the country involved. Rather they have resulted in the destruction of each country's institutions, and eventually societal collapse.
In the U.S. the capturing of systems' decision making structures is not limited to Russia-Gate and the overturning of the electoral system. Their are other prime examples:
- The capture of the Air Transport Safety System by Boeing that has resulted in the recent 737 Max crashes, and likely the destruction of the reputation of the U.S. aviation industry, in an industry where reputation is everything.
- The capture of the Financial Regulatory System, by Wall Street, who in 1998 rewrote the rules in their own favor, against the best interests of the population as a whole. The result was the 2008 financial crisis and the inability of the U.S. economy to effectively recover from that crisis.
- This capture is also seen in international diplomatic systems, where the U.S. is systematically by-passing or subverting international law and international institutions, (the U.N. I.C.J., I.N.F. treaty) etc., and in doing so is destroying these institutions and the ability to maintain peace.
The result of system (institution) capture is difficult to see at first. But, in time, the damage adds up, the ability of the systems to meet the needs of the population disappears, and societal decline sets in.
It looks today like the the societal decline is acellerating. Russia-gate is just one of many indicators.The pair @ 3.worldblee , Mar 23, 2019 3:28:20 PM | link
Your comment on the BBC is on the mild side. I listen to it when I drive in in the morning and also get annoyed sometimes. When it is reporting on the Westminster bubble it is factually accurate as far as I can judge. Apart from that, and particularly in the case of the BBC news, we're in information control territory.
But accept that and the BBC turns into quite a valuable resource. It's well staffed, has good contacts, and picks up what the politicians want us to think with great accuracy.
In that respect it's better than the newspapers and better also than the American media. Those news outlets have several masters of which the political elite is only one. The BBC has just the one master, the political elite, and is as sensitive as a stethoscope to the shifting currents within that political elite.
So I wouldn't despise the BBC entirely. It tells us how the politicians want us to think. In telling us that it sometimes gives us a bearing on what the politicians et al are doing and what they intend to do.The never-Trumpers will never let their dreams die. Of course, they never oppose Trump on substantive issues like attempting a coup in Venezuela, withdrawing from the INF treaty, supporting the nazis in Ukraine, supporting Al Qaeda forces in Syria, etc. But somehow they're totally against him and ready to haul out the latest stupid thing he said as their daily fodder for conversation...ben , Mar 23, 2019 3:32:48 PM | linkrenfro @ 10 said;"The Dems were stupid to gin up the Russian collusion."Jackrabbit , Mar 23, 2019 3:48:10 PM | link
Uh no, just doing their job of distracting the public, while ignoring the real issues the
American workers care about. You know, the things DJT promised the workers, but has never delivered.(better health care for all, ending the useless wars overseas, an infrastructure
plan to increase good paying jobs), to name just a few.
The corporate Dems( which is the lions share of them), are bought and paid for to distract, and they've done it well.
The Bushes, the Clintons, the Obamas, and most who have come before, are of the same ilk.
Bend over workers and lube up, for more of the same in 2020...I profoundly disagree with the notion that Russiagate had anything to do with Hillary's collusion with the DNC. Gosh, that is naive at best.Jen , Mar 23, 2019 4:01:43 PM | link1) Hillary didn't need to collude against Sanders - the additional money that she got from doing so was small change compared the to overall amount she raised for her campaign.
2) Sanders was a long-time friend of the Clintons. He boasted that he's known Hillary for over 25 years.
3) Sanders was a sheepdog meant to keep progressives in the Democratic Party. He was never a real candidate. He refused to attack Hillary on character issues and remained loyal even after Hillary-DNC collusion was revealed.
When Sanders had a chance to total disgrace Hillary, he refused to do so. Hillary repeatedly said that she had NEVER changed for vote for money but Warren had proven that she had: Hillary changed her vote on the Bankruptcy Bill for money from the credit card industry.
4) Hillary didn't try to bury her collusion with the DNC (as might be expected), instead she used it to alienate progressive voters by bring Debra Wasserman-Shultz into her campaign.
5) Hillary also alienated or ignored other important constituencies: she wouldn't support an increase in the minimum wage but accepted $750,000 from Goldman Sachs for a speech; she took the black vote for granted and all-but berated a Black Lives Matters activist; and she called whites "deplorables".
Hillary threw the race to her OTHER long-time friend in the race: Trump. The Deep-State wanted a nationalist and that's just what they got.
6) Hillary and the DNC has shown NO REMORSE whatsoever about colluding with Sanders and Sanders has shown no desire whatsoever to hold them accountable.
IMO Russiagate (Russian influence on Trump) and accusations of "Russian meddling" in the election are part of the same McCarthyist psyop to direct hate at Russia and stamp out any dissent. Trump probably knowingly, played into the Deep State's psyop by:> hiring Manafort;
> calling on Russia to release Hillary's emails;
> talking about Putin in a admiring way.
And it accomplished much more than hating on Russia:> served as excuse for Trump to do Deep State bidding;hopehely , Mar 23, 2019 3:49:15 PM | link The US owes Russia an official apology. And also Russia should get its stolen buildings and the consulate back. And maybe to get paid some compensation for the injustice and for damages suffered. Without that, the Russiagate is not really over.
> distracted from the real meddling in the 2016 election;
> served as a device for settling scores:- Assange isolated
(Wikileaks was termed an "agent of a foreign power");
- Michael Flynn forced to resign
(because he spoke to the Russian ambassador).
BraveNewWorld @ 11:james , Mar 23, 2019 4:16:03 PM | link
If memory serves me correctly, the initial accusations of collusion between DJT's presidential campaign and the Kremlin came from Crowdstrike, the cybersecurity company hired by the Democratic National Committee to oversee the security of its computers and databases. This was done to deflect attention away from Hillary Clinton's illegal use of a personal server at home to conduct government business during her time as US State Secretary (2009 - 2013), business which among other things included plotting with the US embassy in Libya (and the then US ambassador Chris Stevens) to overthrow Muammar Gaddhafi's government in 2011, and conspiring also to overthrow the elected government in Honduras in 2010.
The business of Christopher Steele's dossier (part or even most of which could have been written by Sergei Skripal, depending on who you read) and George Papadopoulos' conversation with the half-wit Australian "diplomat" Alexander Downer in London were brought in to bolster the Russiagate claims and make them look genuine.
As B says, Crowdstrike does indeed have a Ukrainian nationalist agenda: its founder and head Dmitri Alperovich is a Senior Fellow at The Atlantic Council (the folks who fund Bellingcat's crapaganda) and which itself receives donations from Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk. Crowdstrike has some association with one of the Chalupa sisters (Alexandra or Andrea - I can't be bothered dredging through DuckDuckGo to check which - but one of them was employed by the DNC) who donated money to the Maidan campaign that overthrew Viktor Yanukovych's government in Kiev in February 2014.thanks b... i would like russiagate to be finished, but i tend to see it much like kadath @2.. the link @2 is worth the read as a reminder of how far the usa has sunk in being a nation of passive neocons... emptywheel can't say no to this as witnessed by her article from today.. ) as a consequence, i agree with @14 dh-mtl's conclusion - "It looks today like the the societal decline is acellerating. Russia-gate is just one of many indicators."WDDiM , Mar 23, 2019 4:36:17 PM | link
the irony for those of us who don't live in the usa, is we are going to have watch this sad state of affairs continue to unravel, as the usa and the west continue to unravel in tandem.. the msm as corporate mouthpiece is not going to be tell us anything of relevance.. instead it will be continued madcow, or maddow bullshit 24-7... amd as kadath notes @2 - if any of them are to step up as a truth teller - they will be marginalized or silenced... so long as the mainstream swallow what they are fed in the msm, the direction of the titanic is still on track...
@19 hopehely... you can forget about anything like that happening..What Difference Does it Make?Zanon , Mar 23, 2019 4:37:43 PM | link
They don't really need Russia-gate anymore. It bought them time. As we speak nuclear bombers make runs near Russian borders every day and Russian consulates get attacked with heavy weaponry in the EU and no Russian outlet is even making a reference,while Israel is ready to move heavy artillery in to Golan targeting Russia bases in Syria and China raking all their deals for civilian projects in the Med.
Russia got stuffed in the corner getting all the punches.What a horrible witch hunt, but the msm will keep on denying and keep creating new hoaxes about Trump, Russia.iv> also, there is a big risk that the media, deep state will create new accusations coming days.
Heck the media even deny there was no collussion, they keep spinning it in different ways!
But remember folks, we here was always right...
The Mueller Report Is In. They Were Wrong. We Were Right.
Posted by: Zanon , Mar 23, 2019 4:39:30 PM | linkalso, there is a big risk that the media, deep state will create new accusations coming days.Russ , Mar 23, 2019 4:41:30 PM | link
Posted by: Zanon | Mar 23, 2019 4:39:30 PM | linkPeople are forgetting to call Dembot agent Wheeler "FBI rat Wheeler", or just Rat Wheeler. Or EmptySqueal.karlof1 , Mar 23, 2019 4:47:23 PM | linkThanks for citing Caitlin Johnstone's wonderful epitaph, b--Russiavape indeed!Scotch Bingeington , Mar 23, 2019 4:47:39 PM | link
During the fiasco, the Outlaw US Empire provided excellent proof to the world that it does everything it accused Russia of doing and more, while Russia's cred has greatly risen. Meanwhile, there're numerous other crimes Trump, his associates, Clinton, her associates--like Pelosi--ought to be impeached, removed from office, arrested, then tried in court, which is diametrically opposed to the current--false--narrative.Zanon , Mar 23, 2019 4:52:41 PM | linkThe people who steered us into two years of Russiavape insanity are the very last people anyone should ever listen to ever again when determining the future direction of our world.
Yes, absolutely. And not just regarding the world's future, but even if you happen to be in the same building with one of them and he/she bursts into your already smoke-filled room yelling that the house is on fire.
Btw, whatever authority has ever ruled that "ex-MI6 dude" Steele (who doesn't remind me of steel at all, but rather of a certain nondescript entity named Anthony Blair) is in fact merely 'EX'? He himself? The organisation? The Queen perhaps?Scotch BingeingtonJackrabbit , Mar 23, 2019 5:00:23 PM | link
Expose them at every opportunity, they should not get away with this like nothing happend:If you think a single Russiagate conspiracist is going to be held accountable for media malpractice, you clearly haven't been awake the past 2 decades. No one will pay for being wrong. This profession is as corrupt & rotten as the kleptocracy it serves
defeatism isn't the answer -- should remind & mock these hacks every opportunity. Just need to be aware of the beast we're up against.
Who will say that the King has no clothes?WDDiM , Mar 23, 2019 5:08:16 PM | link
The establishment plays on peoples fears and so we all sink together as we all cling to our "lesser evils", tribal allegiances, and try to avoid the embarrassment of being wrong.
Although everyone is aware of the corruption and insider dealing, no one seems to want to acknowledge the extent, or to think critically so as to reveal any more than we already know.
It's almost as though corruption (the King's nudity) is a national treasure and revealing it would be a national security breach in the exceptional nation.
And so to the Deep State cabal continues to rule unimpeded.steve , Mar 23, 2019 5:11:08 PM | linkThe oligarchy that runs the country responded to the American people's decision by inventing a completely cock-and-bull story about Donald Trump being a Russian agent who the American people were tricked into voting for by nefarious Russian mind-control operatives, getting every organ of the liberal corporate media to disseminate and relentlessly promote this story on a daily basis for nearly three years
Posted by: Ken | Mar 23, 2019 2:09:31 PM | 4
You people don't get it do you?
'The Plan' was to get rid of Turkey-Russia-Israel (and a few others) with one fell swoop....Deep state makes the warren commish seem authoritativejohn , Mar 23, 2019 5:13:37 PM | linkthe rot in DC is palpable. this whole russiagate fiasco's been like some kind of really bad audition for deeper state kabuki...what's next?Blooming Barricade , Mar 23, 2019 5:22:08 PM | link
keeping brand Trump alive.Matt Taibbi:Pft , Mar 23, 2019 5:38:41 PM | link
It's official: Russiagate is this generation's WMD
The Iraq war faceplant damaged the reputation of the press. Russiagate just destroyed it
https://taibbi.substack.com/p/russiagate-is-wmd-times-a-millionRussia gate was both a diversion from the real collusions (Russian Mafia , China and Israel) and a clever ruse to allow Trump to back off from his campaign promise to improve relations with Russia. US policy toward Russia is no different under Trump than it was during Obamas administration. Exactly what the Russia Gaters wanted and Trump delivered.tuyzentfloot , Mar 23, 2019 5:46:31 PM | link
That Mueller could find nothing more than some tax/money laundering/perjury charges in which the culprits in the end get pardoned is hardly surprising given his history. Want something covered up? Put Mueller on it.
To show how afraid Trump was of Mueller he appointed his long term friend Barr as AJ and pretended he didn't know how close they were when it came out. There is no lie people wont believe. Lol
Meanwhile Trumps Russian Mafia connections stay under the radar in MSM, Trump continues as Bibi's sock puppet, the fake trade war with China continues as Ivanka is rolling in China trademarks .
The Rothschild puppet that bailed out Trumps casinos as Commerce Secretary overseeing negotiations that will open the doors for more US and EU (they willy piggy back on the deal like hyenas) jobs to go to China (this time in financial/services) and stronger IPR protections that will facilitate this transfer, and will provide companies more profits in which to buyback stocks but wont bring manufacturing jobs back.The collusion story has been hit badly and it will likely lose its momentum, but I wonder how far reaching this loss of momentum is. There are many variants. The 'unwitting accomplice' is an oxymoron which isn't finished yet. The Russians hacking the election: not over. The Russians sowing discord and division. Not over. Credibility of the Russiagate champions overall? Not clear. Some could take a serious hit. Brennan and other insiders who made it onto cable tv?JOHN CHUCKMAN , Mar 23, 2019 5:48:55 PM | link
It is possible that the whole groupthink about Russiagate changes drastically
and that 'the other claims' also lose their credibility but it's far from certain. After years of building up tension Russia's policies are also changing. I think they have shown restraint but their paranoia and aggressiveness is also increasing and some claims will become true after all.Jackrabbit , Mar 23, 2019 5:59:03 PM | link
"Russiagate" has always been a meaningless political fraud.
When folks like Hillary Clinton sign on to something and give it a great deal of weight, you really do know you are talking about an empty bag of tricks. She is a psychopathic liar, one with a great deal of blood on her hands.
My problem with this official result is that it may tend to give Trump a boost, new credibility.
The trouble with Trump has never been Russia - something only blind ideologues and people with the minds of children believe - it is that he is genuinely ignorant and genuinely arrogant and loud-mouthed - an extremely dangerous combination.
And in trying to defend himself, this genuine coward has completely surrendered American foreign policy to its most dangerous enemies, the Neocons.
Blaming Russiagate on Hillary is very easy for those who hate her or hope that Trump will deliver on his faux populist fake-agenda.Copeland , Mar 23, 2019 6:23:41 PM | link
No one wants to contemplate the possibility that Hillary and Trump, and the duopoly they lead, fixed the election and planned Russiagate in advance.
It seems a bridge too far, even for the smart skeptics at MoA.
Trump has proven himself to be a neocon. He broke his campaign promise to investigate Hillary within DAYS of being elected. He has brought allies of his supposed enemies into his Administration.
Yet every one turns from the possibility that the election was fixed. LOL.
The horrible possibility that our "democracy" is managed is too horrible to contemplate. Lets just blame it all on Hillary.
Welcome to the rabbithole.Those who have been holding their breath for two years can finally exhale. I guess the fever of hysteria will have to be attended a while longer. A malady of this kind does not easily die out overnight. Those who have been taken in, and duped for so long, can not so easily recover. The weight of so much cognitive dissonance presses down on them like a boulder. The dust of the stampeded herd behind Russiagate is enough paralyze the will of those who have succumbed.Jonathan , Mar 23, 2019 7:02:54 PM | link
As Joseph Conrad once wrote, "The ways of human progress are inscrutable."@37 Jackrabbit,Arioch , Mar 23, 2019 7:06:26 PM | link
Of course it was fixed. That's what the Electoral College is for .Russiagate is a pendulum, it reached the dead point, it would hange in the air for a moment, then it would start swinging right backwards at full speed crashign everything in the way!fast freddy , Mar 23, 2019 7:12:20 PM | link
It would be revealed, it was Russia who paid Muller to start that hysteria and stole money from American tax-payers and make America an international laughing stock. "Putin benefited from it", highly likely!
Muller's investigation is paid for with Manafort's seized cash and property and Manafort has made Yanukovich king of Ukraine, so Manafort is Putin's agent, so Muller is working of Putin's money, so it was Putin's collusion everything that Muller is doing! Highly likely.There is no "Liberal Media". Those whom claim to be Liberal and yet support the Warmonger Democratic Party (Republican lite) are frauds. Liberalism does not condone war and it most certainly does not support wars of aggression - especially those wars waged against defenseless nations. Neither can liberalism support trade sanctions or the subjugation of Palestinians in the Apartheid State of ISreal.Peter , Mar 23, 2019 7:16:00 PM | linkhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHo6cW0HVkQ DISGRACEFUL WILL WE EVER SAY NO?vk , Mar 23, 2019 7:24:32 PM | link@ Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 23, 2019 3:48:10 PM | 18Sandwichman , Mar 23, 2019 7:30:58 PM | link
We must be very careful with the words we choose, in order to paint the correct conjuncture and not to throw the bathtub with the baby inside.
It's one thing to say Bernie Sanders is not a revolutionary; it's another completely different thing to say he was in cahoots with the Clintons.
If Bernie Sanders really was a "friend" of the Clintons, then he wouldn't even have disputed the primaries against Hillary. Not only he chose to do so, but he only didn't win because the DNC threw all its weight against him.
Now, I agree he's not a revolutionary socialist. He's an imperialist who believes the spoils of the empire should be also used to build a Scandinavian-style Welfare State for the American people only. A cynic would tell you this would make him a Nazi without the race theme, but you have to keep in mind societies move in a dialectical patern, not a linear one: if you preach for "democratic socialism", you're bringing the whole package, not only the bits you want.
I believe the rise of Bernie Sanders had an overall positive impact in the world as it exists. Americans are more aware of their own contradictions (more enlightened) now than before he disputed those faithful primaries of 2016. And the most important ingredient for that, in my opinion, was the fact he was crushed by both parties; that the "establishment" acted in unison not to let him get near the WH. That was a didactic moment for the American people (or a signficant part of it).
But I agree Russiagate went well beyond just covering the Clintons' dirt in the DNC.
It may have be born like that, but, if that was the case, the elites quickly realized it had other, ampler practical uses. The main one, in my opinion, was to drive a wedge between Trump's Clash of Civilizations's doctrine -- which perceives China as the main long term enemy, and Russia as a natural ally of the West -- and the public opinon. The thing is most of the American elite is far too dependent on China's productive chain; Russia is not, and can be balkanized.counterpoint: If the Mueller report does not EXPLICITLY exonerate Trump, it does NOT exonerate Trump.wagelaborer , Mar 23, 2019 7:43:06 PM | linkThere is a funny video compilation of the TV talking heads predicting the end of Trump, new bombshells, impeachment, etc., over the last two years.Rob , Mar 23, 2019 7:58:15 PM | link
Unfortunately, the same sort of compilation could be made of sane people predicting "this new information means the end of Russiagate" over the same time period.
The truth is that the truth doesn't matter, only the propaganda, and it has not stopped, only spun onto new hysteria.As others have said, hard core Russiagaters will likely not be convinced that they have been wrong all along. They have too much emotional investment in the grand conspiracy theory to simply let it go. Rather, they will forever point to what they believe are genuine bits of evidence and curse Mueller for not following the leads. And the Dems in the House of Representatives will waste more time and resources on pointless investigations in an effort to keep the public sufficiently distracted from more important matters, such as the endless wars and coups that they support. A pox on all their houses, both Democrats and Republicans.Sandwichman , Mar 23, 2019 8:08:59 PM | link
"...hard core Russiagaters will likely not be convinced that they have been wrong all along."Sunny Runny Burger , Mar 23, 2019 8:10:36 PM | link
Wrong about what? There seems to be "narrative" operative here that there are only two positions on this matter: the "right" one and the "wrong" one and nothing else.Ben nails it in "Mar 23, 2019 3:32:48 PM | 17".Jackrabbit , Mar 23, 2019 8:11:22 PM | link
Ben's and other comments might make this a little bit superfluous but it's short.
A case of divide and conquer against the population
This time it was a fabricated scandal.
Continued control over "facts" and narratives, the opportunity for efficient misdirection and distraction, stealing and wasting other people's time and effort, spurious disagreements, wearing down relations.
The illusion of choice, (false) opposition, blinded "oversight", and mythical claims concerning a civilian government (in the case of the US: "of, for, and by" or something like that).
Who knew or knows is irrelevant as long as the show goes on. There's nothing to prove anything significant about who if anyone may or may not be behind the curtain and thus on towards the next big or small scandal we go because people will be dissatisfied and hungry and ready to bite as hard as possible on some other bait for or against something.
Maybe "Russiagate" was impeccably engineered or maybe it organically outcompeted other distractions on offer that would ultimately also waste enormous amounts of time and effort.
Management by crisis
The scandals, crises, "Science says" games and rubbish, outrage narratives, and any other manipulations attempt and perhaps succeed at controlling the US and the world through spam.Jonathan @39: Of course it was fixed. That's what the Electoral College is for.aspnaz , Mar 23, 2019 8:19:24 PM | link
Well, you can say the same think about money-as-speech , gerrymandering, voter suppression, etc. Despite all these, Americans believe that their democracy works.
I contend that what we witnessed in 2016 was a SHOW. Like American wrestling. It was (mostly) fake. The proper term for this is kayfabe .
<> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>
And we have seen other 'shows' also, like:> White Helmets;
>> the Kavanaugh hearings;
>> pulling troops out of Syria.My advice to the yanks mourning Russiagate: move to the UK. The sick Brits will keep the Russia hating cult alive even after they spend a decade puking over Brexit.mourning dove , Mar 23, 2019 8:50:48 PM | linkJackrabbit @18Cortes , Mar 23, 2019 8:51:27 PM | link
So, you don't think HRC qualifies as a nationalist? She can't fake populist, but she can do nationalist.
I also think she is much too ambitious to have intentionally thrown the election. It was her turn dammit! Take a look at her behavior as First Lady if you think she's the kind of personality that is content to wield power from behind the scenes.As usual, a fine essay. Thank you.Les , Mar 23, 2019 8:55:52 PM | link
A couple of suggestions?
The headline would be better worded "Russiagate really is finished."
And the reaction at Colonel Lang's site makes interesting reading.They didn't fall for the Steele dossier. I recall that emptywheel had discredited the dossier during the election as it was known to have been rejected by major media outlets leading up to the election. I think they merely fell behind the others as the outgoing administration, the Democrats, the CIA, and the media chose to use the dossier to 'blackmail' Trump.paul , Mar 23, 2019 8:56:02 PM | linkThe most important fruit of russiagate, from the view of the establishment of the hegemon, is that America has now taken a giant step towards full bore censorship.Jackrabbit , Mar 23, 2019 9:00:35 PM | linkvk @43Jackrabbit , Mar 23, 2019 9:02:11 PM | link
We must be very careful ... and not to throw the bathtub with the baby inside.
Don't we already have plenty of evidence that there is no precious democratic baby in the bath? What do you think the Yellow Vests are doing every weekend?
If Bernie Sanders really was a "friend" of the Clintons, then he wouldn't even have disputed the primaries against Hillary.
Why not? Do you know him personally? Can you vouch for him?
Have you read this: Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders: Sheepdogging for Hillary and the Democrats in 2016 ?
Bernie referred to Hillary as "my friend" many times on the campaign trail. He told Politico that he's known her for 25 years but they are not "best friends". That's Sander's typical word judo. Like when he was asked about Zionism, his response: what's that?
The fact is, Bernie is friendly with all the top Democrats: Obama campaigned for him and Schumer wouldn't allow funding for democratic candidates that opposed him.
Then there's other strangeness. Like Bernie's refusal to release his 2014 tax returns. Bernie said his returns were "boring" but when his 2015 tax return was delayed the press asked him to release his 2014 return (Hillary boasted that she had released 10 years of returns). Bernie refused.
Now, I agree he's not a revolutionary socialist.... I believe the rise of Bernie Sanders had an overall positive impact in the world as it exists.
Really? LOL. Sanders REFUSED to lead a Movement for real change. That might've changed things for the better Mi>- like the Yellow Vests are changing things for the better.
What have we seen from the Democratics since 2016? Bullshit like Russiagate, meaningless astroturf activism around bathrooms and statues, and outlandish policies like open borders. These things just irritate most Americans and will lead to more failure for the Democrats and another 4 years for Trump.
Lastly, you said nothing about Bernie's refusal to attack Hillary on character issues and to counter her assertion that she NEVER changed her vote for money. Other examples: Bernie refused to discuss Hillary's home email server, never mentioned Hillary's well known work to squash investigations of Bill Clinton for abusing women (Jennifer Flowers), and didn't talk about other scandals like Benghazi ("What difference does it make") and her glee at the overthrow of Quadaffi ("we came, we saw, we kicked his ass").
And what of Trump? He was the ONLY republican populist in a field of 19. Do you find that even a little bit strange?Sorry, here's a more readable version:mourning dove , Mar 23, 2019 9:06:00 PM | link
We must be very careful ... and not to throw the bathtub with the baby inside.
Don't we already have plenty of evidence that there is no precious democratic baby in the bath? What do you think the Yellow Vests are doing every weekend?
If Bernie Sanders really was a "friend" of the Clintons, then he wouldn't even have disputed the primaries against Hillary.
Why not? Do you know him personally? Can you vouch for him?
Have you read this: Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders: Sheepdogging for Hillary and the Democrats in 2016 ?
Bernie referred to Hillary as "my friend" many times on the campaign trail. He told Politico that he's known her for 25 years but they are not "best friends". That's Sander's typical word judo. Like when he was asked about Zionism, his response: what's that?
The fact is, Bernie is friendly with all the top Democrats: Obama campaigned for him and Schumer wouldn't allow funding for democratic candidates that opposed him.
Then there's other strangeness. Like Bernie's refusal to release his 2014 tax returns. Bernie said his returns were "boring" but when his 2015 tax return was delayed the press asked him to release his 2014 return (Hillary boasted that she had released 10 years of returns) . Bernie refused.
Now, I agree he's not a revolutionary socialist.... I believe the rise of Bernie Sanders had an overall positive impact in the world as it exists.
Really? LOL. Sanders REFUSED to lead a Movement for real change. That might've changed things for the better Mi>- like the Yellow Vests are changing things for the better.
What have we seen from the Democratics since 2016? Bullshit like Russiagate, meaningless astroturf activism around bathrooms and statues, and outlandish policies like open borders. These things just irritate most Americans and will lead to more failure for the Democrats and another 4 years for Trump.
Lastly, you said nothing about Bernie's refusal to attack Hillary on character issues and to counter her assertion that she NEVER changed her vote for money. Other examples: Bernie refused to discuss Hillary's home email server, never mentioned Hillary's well known work to squash investigations of Bill Clinton for abusing women (Jennifer Flowers), and didn't talk about other scandals like Benghazi ("What difference does it make") and her glee at the overthrow of Quadaffi ("we came, we saw, we kicked his ass").
And what of Trump? He was the ONLY republican populist in a field of 19. Do you find that even a little bit strange?Jonathan @39Jackrabbit , Mar 23, 2019 9:13:59 PM | link
Exactly! It's the Electoral College that decides elections, not voters.mourning dove @57: Exactly! It's the Electoral College that decides elections, not voters.Hoarsewhisperer , Mar 23, 2019 9:14:04 PM | link
Do you think Hillary didn't know that? She refused to campaign in the three mid-western states that would've won her the electoral college. Each of the states were won by Trump by a thin margin.Gosh and Blimey!Erelis , Mar 23, 2019 9:35:12 PM | link
Comment #56 in a thread about an utterly corrupt political system and no-one has mentioned the pro-"Israel" Lobby?
Words fail me. So I'll use someone else's...
From Xymphora March 21, 2019.
"Truth or Trope?" (Sailer):
"Of the top 50 political donors to either party at the federal level in 2018, 52 percent were Jewish and 48 percent were gentile. Individuals who identify as Jewish are usually estimated to make up perhaps 2.2 percent of the population.
Of the $675 million given by the top 50 donors, 66 percent of the money came from Jews and 34 percent from gentiles.
Of the $297 million that GOP candidates and conservative causes received from the top 50 donors, 56 percent was from Jewish individuals.
Of the $361 million Democratic politicians and liberal causes received, 76 percent came from Jewish givers.
So it turns out that Rep. Omar and Gov. LePage appear to have been correct, at least about the biggest 2018 donors. But you can also see why Pelosi wanted Omar to just shut up about it: 76 percent is a lot."Next up another false flag operation. The thing is, it would have be non-trivial and involving the harming of people to jolt the narrative back to that favoring the deep state. And taking off the proverbial media table, that Mueller found no collusion. Yes, election in 2016 no collusion, but Putin was behind the latest horrific false flag, "oh look, Trump is not confronting Putin"...daffyDuct , Mar 23, 2019 9:40:02 PM | linkmourning dove , Mar 23, 2019 9:54:13 PM | link
Not even getting into the "treason", "putin's c*ckholster", "what's the time on Moscow, troll!" crap we've been subjected to for 3 years, please enjoy this mashup: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjUvfZj-Fm0.Jackrabbit,jadan , Mar 23, 2019 9:56:37 PM | link
I've said before that she's a terrible strategist and she ran a terrible campaign and she's terribly out of touch. I think she expected a cake walk and was relying on Trump being so distasteful to voters that they'd have no other option.
I think Trump legitimately won the election and I don't believe for a second that she won the popular vote. There were so many problems with the election but since they were on the losing side, nobody cares. In 2012 I didn't know anyone else who was voting for Jill Stein, way too many people were still in love with Obama. She got .4% of the vote. In 2016 most of the people I knew were voting for Jill Stein, she drew a large crowd from DemExit, but they say she got .4% of the vote. Total bullshit. There was also ballot stuffing and lots of other problems, but it still wasn't enough.
I'm also convinced that Trump and Clinton colluded, but that they did so in order to get her elected. I don't think he really wanted the job. But still, Hillary can do nationalist, and the designs of the Empire would have proceeded either way.
Trump is a crook who takes money wherever he can get it, from subcontractors foolish enough to work for him to bankers dumb enough to believe his financial statements. No doubt he has helped Russian crooks sanitize their booty, but that is apparently too difficult for Mueller to prove.
It is not good news that this troglodyte was not indicted, but it is good news that Russia was not found guilty of electing him. Russiagate is an existential issue for the "national security" establishment and just another propaganda offensive designed to justify the largely useless & destructive activities of the Pentagon.
It is time to build cooperation not continue the stupidity of US unilateralism and pursuit of global hegemony. Trump and his team have to be removed from office. Democrats don't need Russiagate to do it. The truth will work better.
Mar 24, 2019 | www.amazon.com
Susan TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The Diabolical Duo: the Sins of the Fathers March 22, 2019
As a political wonk and news junkie, I was not surprised by KUSHNER, INC., but Vicky Ward's well-sourced book is nonetheless a fascinating and maddening read. If this were a work of fiction, I would deem it unbelievable: a grade B story of political intrigue. How can this be happening, unchecked, before my eyes? How serendipitous that the book's release coincided almost exactly with news that Congressman Elijah Cummings requested details of the Kushner Kouple's use of private email and WhatsApp. And as I sit in anticipation of what I might soon learn from Robert Mueller. And as I hope for additional criminal indictments.
I assume that the majority of Vicky Ward's audience is comprised of anti-Trumpers who will be further inflamed by the chutzpah of Javanka. The tale of 666 Fifth Avenue in itself should infuriate everyone who has a mortgage: after a few missed payments, the lender stands at the front door with a foreclosure notice. On the other hand, no penalties are incurred on a $1.2 billion loan, AND a bank will lend more money if your last name is Kushner, no matter that one of the principles has been convicted of financial crimes related to real estate deals.
My takeaway from KUSHNER, INC.: not only are the Kushners sleazy, greedy, and imperious (and more than a little creepy), but they are dangerous. Jared, in particular, will go to any length to find money, even if it means secretly negotiating with actors like Qatar, while he sits in the West Wing. The amount of money the Kushner Kouple continues to make while working for the taxpayers is staggering. They follow no rules. The irony of their use of private email and WhatsApp is not lost on me, but rather than LOCK THEM UP, their defenders see nothing amiss about their chitchat with the despotic MBS and others.
Vicky Ward does nothing in her book to assuage my distrust of the Kushners and my disgust that nothing has been done to stop them. I have no doubt that any pro-Trumper who reads KUSHNER, INC. will deem the book to be a hit job, but based on Vicky Ward's sourcing (how big a role does Steve Bannon play, as he does in Michael Wolff's FIRE AND FURY?) and news reports from reputable media, I find her account to be credible. Is it any wonder that the offspring of two corrupt real estate moguls not only found one another and married, but also followed in their fathers' footsteps?
Aug 03, 2018 | money.cnn.com
The Kushner Companies has finally struck a deal to get the building that was supposed to be the centerpiece of its portfolio, but instead had weighed it down for years, off its hands.
Brookfield Properties announced Friday afternoon that it has acquired a 100% leasehold interest in the building, a 1.5 million square foot property at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, for 99 years through one of its funds. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Brookfield, which has major real estate holdings around the world, said it's planning a significant redevelopment of the building.
The Kushners bought the Fifth Avenue skyscraper in 2007 for a then-record $1.8 billion. It was supposed to have been the crown jewel of their real estate empire, and Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, played a prominent role in the deal.
But the property didn't bring in as much revenue as expected, making it difficult to repay loans on the building.
The building carries $1.4 billion in debt, the bulk of which comes due in February 2019.
Jared Kushner divested his equity interest in the building when he took his current role at the White House.
Kushner Companies and Brookfield declined to comment.Special counsel interest
CNN previously reported in February that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators were looking into Kushner's efforts to shore up financing for 666 Fifth Avenue during the presidential transition, according to people familiar with the special counsel investigation.
One line of questioning from Mueller's team involved discussions Kushner had with Chinese investors, according to the sources familiar with the inquiry.
A week after Trump's election, Kushner met with the chairman and other executives of Anbang Insurance, the Chinese conglomerate that bought the Waldorf Astoria in 2014, according to The New York Times.
Kushner divests from his most expensive NYC property
At the time, Kushner and Anbang's chairman, Wu Xiaohui, were close to finishing a deal for the Chinese insurer to invest in 666 Fifth Avenue. Talks between the two companies collapsed a few months later, according to the Times.
Mueller's team also asked about Kushner's dealings with a Qatari investor regarding the same property, according to one of the sources. Kushner and his company were negotiating for financing from a prominent Qatari investor, former prime minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, according to The Intercept. But as with Anbang, these efforts stalled.
In February, Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement, "Another anonymous source with questionable motives now contradicts the facts -- in all of Mr. Kushner's extensive cooperation with all inquiries, there has not been a single question asked nor document sought on the 666 building or Kushner Co. deals. Nor would there be any reason to question these regular business transactions."Troubled property
The 666 Fifth Avenue purchase in 2007 was supposed to be a big break for Kushner Companies, which has roots buying middle-income housing in the tri-state area.
But it came under financial pressure during the housing crisis.
In 2011, Vornado Realty Trust stepped in with financing, taking on a 49.5% stake in the building. Vornado agreed to sell its stake back to Kushner Companies in June.
Charles Kushner, Jared's father, told CNN in April that his son expressed reservations about buying the office tower.
"I pushed Jared to do the deal," Charles said.
In the interview, the elder Kushner called the decision to purchase the property "bad timing and bad judgment."
Aug 03, 2017 | independent.co.uk
New York federal prosecutors have reportedly subpoenaed Kushner Companies, the New York real estate business owned by the family of Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.
The subpoenea concerns the company's use of the controversial EB-5 visa programme to finance its development in New Jersey called One Journal Square, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The EB-5 programme allows wealthy foreign investors to effectively buy US immigration visas for themselves and their families by investing at least $500,000 (Ł378,000) in US development projects.
Feb 12, 2019 | independent.co.uk
Fifth Avenue building cost $1.8 billion
Mr Kushner, a senior White House adviser, was a close ally of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - a key architect of a regional boycott against Qatar, which Riyadh accuses of sponsoring terrorism. Doha denies the charge.
Brookfield, a global property investor in which the Qatari government has placed investments, struck a deal last year that rescued the Kushner Companies ' 666 Fifth Avenue tower in Manhattan from financial straits.
The bailout, in which Doha played no part and first learned about in the media, has prompted a rethink of how the gas-rich kingdom invests money abroad via its giant sovereign wealth fund, two sources with knowledge of the matter told the Reuters news agency.
The country has decided that the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) will aim to avoid putting money in funds or other investment vehicles it does not have full control over, according to the sources, who are familiar with the QIA's strategy.
"Qatar started looking into how its name got involved into the deal and found out it was because of a fund it co-owned," said one of the sources. "So QIA ultimately triggered a strategy revamp."
The QIA declined to comment.
Canada's Brookfield Asset Management Inc bailed out 666 Fifth Avenue via its real estate unit Brookfield Property Partners , in which the QIA acquired a 9 per cent stake five years ago. Both parent and unit declined to comment.
The QIA's strategic shift was made late last year, according to the sources. It offers a rare insight into the thinking of one of the world's most secretive sovereign wealth funds.
The revamp could have significant implications for the global investment scene because the QIA is one of the world's largest state investors, with more than $320bn (Ł248bn) under management.
The wealth fund has poured money into the West over the past decade, including rescuing British and Swiss banks during the 2008 financial crisis and investing in landmarks like New York's Plaza Hotel and the Savoy Hotel and Harrods store in London.
Mr Kushner was chief executive of Kushner Companies when it acquired 666 Fifth Avenue in 2007 for $1.8bn, a record at the time for a Manhattan office building. It has been a drag on his family's real estate company ever since. The debt-laden skyscraper was bailed out by Brookfield last August, when it took a 99-year lease on the property, paying the rent for 99 years upfront. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The QIA bought a 9 per cent stake in Brookfield Property Partners, which is known as BPY and is listed in Toronto and New York, for $1.8bn in 2014.
BPY has about $87bn in assets, part of more than $330bn managed by its parent Brookfield. The stake purchase by QIA was in line with its strategy to boost investments in prime US property. The investment gave QIA no seat on the board of BPY.
The Qatari wealth fund was not involved in the 666 Fifth Avenue deal, a source close to Brookfield Asset Management told Reuters . There was no requirement for Brookfield to inform the QIA beforehand.
May 21, 2018 | shugerblog.comThe news broke this Saturday afternoon that Donald Trump, Jr. had met George Nader, an emissary from Saudi Arabia and UAE , along with Erik Prince, Stephen Miller, and Joel Zamel, an Israeli social media expert on Aug. 3, 2016 in Trump Tower:
During the Trump Tower meeting, the Times said, George Nader, the emissary for the two crown princes, indicated that leaders in Saudi Arabia and the UAE wished to help Trump. Nader, the Times said, is now cooperating with Mueller It is not known if anything came of the alleged offer for assistance. The Times stated that Trump Jr responded "approvingly".
This report raises many enormous questions. But it also connects back to another explosive story last week: Brookfield, an enormous fund linked to Qatar, was negotiating to buy Kushner's disastrous $1.8 billion investment in 666 5th Ave. I've written a blogpost and a Google Doc timeline connecting Qatar as the possible intermediary between the Russia-Trump quid pro quo deal of lifting sanctions in return for Rosneft sale commissions. I've also written about Kushner's terrible real estate investment , and how he allegedly escalated a Gulf crisis against Qatar, which coincidentally was followed by a Qatar-linked loan of $184 million. The Brookfield deal could save Kushner from an upcoming balloon payment that his family cannot afford, which could mean financial ruin. I addressed the Qatar links in the Brookfield deal in detail at p. 11-12 of my time line here, with public sourcing. Qatar is the largest outside investor in BPY, even though that's only 9%, and I cite Wendy Siegelman's research showing how Qatar is often a lead manager in some major Brookfield projects in New York and London. We need to see the details of the deal.
And it turns out that Brookfield is also linked to the United Arab Emirates.
- Brookfield Property Partners (BPY) is the unit of Brookfield Assets Management that is negotiating the deal. Its annual report shows that BPY has eight directors, one of which is Soon Young Chang. See p. 109: "Dr. Chang is a member of the board of directors of Dubai World . Dr. Chang serves as Senior Advisor to the Investment Corporation of Dubai, providing strategic counsel and lending his global perspective to the investment arm of the Dubai Government. Dr. Chang is the founder and chairman of Midas International Asset Management Company, an international asset management fund which manages over $5 billion. He is also a founding partner of Sentinel Advisor, a New York-based arbitrage fund."
- Chang is a director of Dubai World , the investment company for the Government of Dubai, one of the two most powerful emirates in the UAE. Wikipedia summarizes: "As a subsidiary of Dubai Inc. , it is the emirate's flag bearer in global investments and has a central role in the direction of Dubai's economy. Assets include DP World , which caused considerable controversy when trying to take over six US ports " It is chaired by Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum , the youngest son of Dubai's former ruler Saeed bin Maktoum bin Hasher Al Maktoum, the half-brother of Dubai's former ruler Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum , and the uncle of Dubai's ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum .
- Chang advises the Investment Corporation of Dubai, the state-owned holding company, a sovereign wealth fund owned by the government. Its chair is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, "the ruler of Dubai," and the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE . He offers some interesting remarks about the 2016 election addressing conspiracy theories here ."Yes, I believe in some conspiracy theories Even during the US elections there was talk about conspiracies, but if a country says we are victims of a conspiracy and then stops working, this is a mistake. Here in the UAE we have faced conspiracies, media campaigns, economic wars. But we never stopped, it only made us more determined."
- Brookfield (BPY) lists (at p. F-60) one of its most significant developments as ICD Brookfield Place in Dubai, UAE ($163 million).
- Brookfield Asset Management's annual report states: "We currently have approximately 6 million square feet of active development projects, including properties in New York, London and Dubai." Again, BAM highlights Dubai. One of their eight corporate offices is in Dubai.
There was excellent coverage of the Saudi Arabia/UAE meeting over the weekend. I highly recommend Chris Hayes's interview of Middle East expert Dexter Filkins here . Filkins explains the axis of conflict in the Middle East of Saudi/UAE/Egypt (plus Israel) vs. Iran/Syria/Lebanon, with Qatar getting caught in between. One might wonder if UAE and Qatar are at odds, why would they both be involved in the same deal to help Kushner? If UAE had made an arrangement with the Trump campaign, Qatar had even more incentive to be helpful and not get frozen out. The Saudi/UAE blockade of April 2017 show the risks of not being in with the Trump administration. (Filkins puzzles at how Kushner knew all about this blockade before it happened, while Tillerson and Mattis were in the dark ) It is conceivable that Qatar was either cooperating with UAE or competing with UAE in assisting the Trump campaign. The Brookfield negotiations might reflect Qatar's response to the blockade "stick" by offering cooperating now with UAE in return for a carrot.
Another innocent explanation is that both Qatar and UAE have so much cash, and they are often in the middle of massive energy and real estate deals around the world. It may actually be a coincidence that Qatar and UAE keep showing up in these events. But the number of coincidences are remarkable, and it is a problem that anyone has a reasonable doubt that the Trump administration is compromised by massive debts, foreign bailouts, and rampant conflicts of interest.I am speculating from public reports and connecting dots. Nader is reportedly cooperating with Mueller, but so far we see no smoking gun. I don't have any conclusions here, just three observations and three questions: It is clear that Soon Young Chang has significant relations with UAE's upper-most leadership. It is clear that Brookfield has a significant relationship with UAE. And it is now reported that UAE sent an emissary to the Trump campaign to discuss assisting it. What does Soon Young Chang know? And when did he know it? What does George Nader know? And when did he know it? What does Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum know? And when did he know it? Brookfield's annual report states under "conflicts of interest": "While Brookfield acts in good faith to resolve all potential conflicts in a manner that is fair and balanced taking into account the facts and circumstances known to it at the time, there can be no assurance that any determination made by Brookfield will be most beneficial to us, favorable to us or would not have been different if additional information were available to it." I'd like to hear Brookfield address this massive conflict of interest, from the UAE and Soon Young Chang, to Qatar, and to Kushner. Maybe their investors would like an explanation, too.
Mar 24, 2019 | www.thedailybeast.com
According to a report by NBC News , special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators are looking at multiple efforts made by Kushner to obtain financing for the project from the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, but they were rejected. Later Qatar's neighbors in the Persian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, began a blockade against Qatar, alleging that the state was a supporter of terrorism. As a Trump adviser on Middle East policy, Kushner, with close ties to Saudi Arabia, was a party to launching this blockade. This and other attempts to get financing for 666 Fifth from Russia, China, and Turkey have drawn the investigators to scrutinize what seem to be Kushner's serious conflicts of interest.
Mar 23, 2019 | original.antiwar.com
This month marks the 20th anniversary of Operation Allied Force, NATO's 78-day air war against Yugoslavia. It was a war waged as much against Serbian civilians – hundreds of whom perished – as it was against Slobodan Milošević's forces, and it was a campaign of breathtaking hypocrisy and selective outrage. More than anything, it was a war that by President Bill Clinton's own admission was fought for the sake of NATO's credibility.
One Man's Terrorist
Our story begins not in the war-torn Balkans of the 1990s but rather in the howling wilderness of Afghanistan at the end of the 1980s as defeated Soviet invaders withdrew from a decade of guerrilla warfare into the twilight of a once-mighty empire. The United States, which had provided arms, funding and training for the mujahideen fighters who had so bravely resisted the Soviet occupation, stopped supporting the jihadis as soon as the last Red Army units rolled across the Hairatan Bridge and back into the USSR. Afghanistan descended deeper into civil war.
The popular narrative posits that Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network, Washington's former mujahideen allies, turned on the West after the US stationed hundreds of thousands of infidel troops in Saudi Arabia – home to two out of three of Sunni Islam's holiest sites – during Operation Desert Shield in 1990. Since then, the story goes, the relationship between the jihadists and their former benefactors has been one of enmity, characterized by sporadic terror attacks and fierce US retribution. The real story, however, is something altogether different.
From 1992 to 1995, the Pentagon flew thousands of al-Qaeda mujahideen, often accompanied by US Special Forces, from Central Asia to Europe to reinforce Bosnian Muslims as they fought Serbs to gain their independence from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Clinton administration armed and trained these fighters in flagrant violation of United Nations accords; weapons purchased by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran were secretly shipped to the jihadists via Croatia, which netted a hefty profit from each transaction. The official Dutch inquiry into the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which thousands of Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb and Serbian paramilitary forces, concluded that the United States was "very closely involved" in these arms transfers.
When the Bosnian war ended in 1995 the United States was faced with the problem of thousands of Islamist warriors on European soil. Many of them joined the burgeoning Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which mainly consisted of ethnic Albanian Kosovars from what was still southwestern Yugoslavia. Emboldened by the success of the Slovenes, Croats, Macedonians and Bosnians who had won their independence from Belgrade as Yugoslavia literally balkanized, KLA fighters began to violently expel as many non-Albanians from Kosovo as they could. Roma, Jews, Turks and, above all, Serbs were all victims of Albanian ethnic cleansing.
The United States was initially very honest in its assessment of the KLA. Robert Gelbard, the US special envoy to Bosnia, called it "without any question a terrorist group." KLA backers allegedly included Osama bin Laden and other Islamic radicals; the group largely bankrolled its activities by trafficking heroin and sex slaves. The State Department accordingly added the KLA to its list of terrorist organizations in 1998.
However, despite all its nastiness the KLA endeared itself to Washington by fighting the defiant Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milošević. By this time Yugoslavia, once composed of eight nominally autonomous republics, had been reduced by years of bloody civil war to a rump of Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. To Serbs, the dominant ethnic group in what remained of the country, Kosovo is regarded as the very birthplace of their nation. Belgrade wasn't about to let it go without a fight and everyone knew it, especially the Clinton administration. Clinton's hypocrisy was immediately evident; when Chechnya fought for its independence from Moscow and Russian forces committed horrific atrocities in response, the American president called the war an internal Russian affair and barely criticized Russian President Boris Yeltsin. But when Milošević resorted to brute force in an attempt to prevent Yugoslavia from further fracturing, he soon found himself a marked man.
Although NATO called the KLA "the main initiator of the violence" in Kosovo and blasted "what appears to be a deliberate campaign of provocation" against the Serbs, the Clinton administration was nevertheless determined to attack the Milošević regime. US intelligence confirmed that the KLA was indeed provoking harsh retaliatory strikes by Serb forces in a bid to draw the United States and NATO into the conflict. President Clinton, however, apparently wasn't listening. The NATO powers, led by the United States, issued Milošević an ultimatum they knew he could never accept: allow NATO to occupy all of Kosovo and have free reign in Serbia as well. Assistant US Secretary of State James Rubin later admitted that "publicly we had to make clear we were seeking an agreement but privately we knew the chances of the Serbs agreeing were quite small."
Wagging the Dog?
In 1997 the film Wag the Dog debuted to rave reviews. The dark comedy concerns a Washington, DC spin doctor and a Hollywood producer who fabricate a fictional war in Albania to distract American voters from a presidential sex scandal. Many observers couldn't help but draw parallels between the film and the real-life events of 1998-99, which included the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Clinton's impeachment and a very real war brewing in the Balkans. As in Wag the Dog , there were exaggerated or completely fabricated tales of atrocities, and as in the film the US and NATO powers tried to sell their war as a humanitarian intervention. An attack on Yugoslavia, we were told, was needed to avert Serb ethnic cleansing of Albanians.
There were two main problems with this. First, there was no Serb ethnic cleansing of Albanian Kosovars until after NATO began mercilessly bombing Yugoslavia. The German government issued several reports confirming this. One, from October 1998, reads, in part:
The violent actions of the Yugoslav military and police since February 1998 were aimed at separatist activities and are no proof of a persecution of the whole Albanian ethnic group in Kosovo or a part of it. What was involved in the Yugoslav violent actions and excesses since February 1998 was a selective forcible action against the military underground movement (especially the KLA) A state program or persecution aimed at the whole ethnic group of Albanians exists neither now nor earlier.
Subsequent German government reports issued through the winter of 1999 tell a similar story. "Events since February and March 1998 do not evidence a persecution program based on Albanian ethnicity," stated one report released exactly one month before the NATO bombing started. "The measures taken by the armed Serbian forces are in the first instance directed toward combating the KLA and its supposed adherents and supporters."
While Serbs certainly did commit atrocities (especially after the ferocious NATO air campaign began), these were often greatly exaggerated by the Clinton administration and the US corporate mainstream media. Clinton claimed – and the media dutifully parroted – that 600,000 Albanians were "trapped within Kosovo lacking shelter, short of food, afraid to go home or buried in mass graves." This was completely false . US diplomat David Scheffer claimed that "225,000 ethnic Albanian men are missing, presumed dead." Again, a total fabrication . The FBI, International War Crimes Tribunal and global forensics experts flocked to Kosovo in droves after the NATO bombs stopped falling; the total number of victims they found was around 1 percent of the figure claimed by the United States.
However, once NATO attacked, the Serb response was predictably furious. Shockingly, NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark declared that the ensuing Serbian atrocities against the Albanian Kosovar population had been "fully anticipated" and were apparently of little concern to Washington. Not only did NATO and the KLA provoke a war with Yugoslavia, they did so knowing that many innocent civilians would be killed, maimed or displaced by the certain and severe reprisals carried out by enraged Serb forces. Michael McGwire, a former top NATO planner, acknowledged that "to describe the bombing as a humanitarian intervention is really grotesque."
The other big problem with the US claiming it was attacking Yugoslavia on humanitarian grounds was that the Clinton administration had recently allowed – and was at the time allowing – far worse humanitarian catastrophes to rage without American intervention. More than 800,000 men, women and children were slaughtered while Clinton and other world leaders stood idly by during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The US also courted the medievally brutal Taliban regime in hopes of achieving stability in Afghanistan and with an eye toward building a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan. Clinton also did nothing to stop Russian forces from viciously crushing nationalist uprisings in the Caucuses, where Chechen rebels were fighting for their independence much the same as Albanian Kosovars were fighting the Serbs.
Colombia, the Western Hemisphere's leading recipient of US military and economic aid, was waging a fierce, decades-long campaign of terror against leftist insurgents and long-suffering indigenous peoples. Despite horrific brutality and pervasive human rights violations, US aid to Bogotá increased year after year. In Turkey, not only did Clinton do nothing to prevent government forces from committing widespread atrocities against Kurdish separatists, the administration positively encouraged its NATO ally with billions of dollars in loans and arms sales. Saudi Arabia, home to the most repressive fundamentalist regime this side of Afghanistan, was – and remains – a favored US ally despite having one of the world's worst human rights records. The list goes on and on.
Much closer to the conflict at hand, the United States tacitly approved the largest ethnic cleansing campaign in Europe since the Holocaust when as many as 200,000 Serbs were forcibly expelled from the Krajina region of Croatia by that country's US-trained military during Operation Storm in August 1995. Krajina Serbs had purged the region of its Croat minority four years earlier in their own ethnic cleansing campaign; now it was the Serbs' turn to be on the receiving end of the horror. Croatian forces stormed through Krajina, shelling towns and slaughtering innocent civilians. The sick and the elderly who couldn't escape were executed or burned alive in their homes as Croatian soldiers machine-gunned convoys of fleeing refugees.
"Painful for the Serbs"
Washington's selective indignation at Serb crimes both real and imagined is utterly inexcusable when held up to the horrific and seemingly indiscriminate atrocities committed during the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia. The prominent Australian journalist John Pilger noted that "in the attack on Serbia, 2 percent of NATO's missiles hit military targets, the rest hit hospitals, schools, factories, churches and broadcast studios." There is little doubt that US and allied warplanes and missiles were targeting the Serbian people as much as, or even more than, Serb forces. The bombing knocked out electricity in 70 percent of the country as well as much of its water supply.
NATO warplanes also deliberately bombed a building containing the headquarters of Serbian state television and radio in the middle of densely populated central Belgrade. The April 23, 1999 attack occurred without warning while 200 employees were at work in the building. Among the 16 people killed were a makeup artist, a cameraman, a program director, an editor and three security guards. There is no doubt that the attack was meant to demoralize the Serbian people. There is also no doubt that those who ordered the bombing knew exactly what outcome to expect: a NATO planning document viewed by Bill Clinton, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac forecast as many as 350 deaths in the event of such an attack, with as many as 250 of the victims expected to be innocent civilians living in nearby apartments.
Allied commanders wanted to fight a "zero casualty war" in Yugoslavia. As in zero casualties for NATO forces, not the people they were bombing. "This will be painful for the Serbs," Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon sadistically predicted. It sure was. NATO warplanes flew sorties at 15,000 feet (4,500 meters), a safe height for the pilots. But this decreased accuracy and increased civilian casualties on the ground. One attack on central Belgrade mistakenly hit Dragiša Mišović hospital with a laser-guided "precision" bomb, obliterating an intensive care unit and destroying a children's ward while wounding several pregnant women who had the misfortune of being in labor at the time of the attack. Dragana Krstić, age 23, was recovering from cancer surgery – she just had a 10-pound (4.5 kg) tumor removed from her stomach – when the bombs blew jagged shards of glass into her neck and shoulders. "I don't know which hurts more," she lamented, "my stomach, my shoulder or my heart."
Dragiša Mišović wasn't the only hospital bombed by NATO. Cluster bombs dropped by fighter jets of the Royal Netherlands Air Force struck a hospital and a market in the city of Niš on May 7, killing 15 people and wounding 60 more. An emergency clinic and medical dispensary were also bombed in the mining town of Aleksinac on April 6, killing at least five people and wounding dozens more.
Bridges were favorite targets of NATO bombing. An international passenger train traveling from Belgrade to Thessaloniki, Greece was blown apart by two missiles as it crossed over Grdelica gorge on April 12. Children and a pregnant woman were among the 15 people killed in the attack; 16 other passengers were wounded. Allied commander Gen. Wesley Clark claimed the train, which had been damaged by the first missile, had been traveling too rapidly for the pilot to abort the second strike on the bridge. He then offered up a doctored video that was sped up more than three times so that the pilot's behavior would appear acceptable.
On May 1, at least 24 civilians, many of them children, were killed when NATO warplanes bombed a bridge in Lužane just as a bus was crossing. An ambulance rushing to the scene of the carnage was struck by a second bomb. On the sunny spring afternoon of May 30, a bridge over the Velika Morava River in the small town of Vavarin was bombed by low-flying German Air Force F-16 fighters while hundreds of local residents gathered nearby to celebrate an Orthodox Christian holiday. Eleven people died, most of them when the warplanes returned and bombed the people who rushed to the bridge to help those wounded in the first strike.
No One Is Safe
The horrors suffered by the villagers of Surdulica shows that no one in Serbia was safe from NATO's fury. They endured some 175 bombardments during one three-week period alone, with 50 houses destroyed and 600 others damaged in a town with only around 10,000 residents. On April 27, 20 civilians, including 12 children, died when bombs meant to destroy an army barracks slammed into a residential neighborhood. As many as 100 others were wounded in the incident. Tragedy befell the tiny town again on May 31 when NATO warplanes returned to bomb an ammunition depot but instead hit an old people's home; 23 civilians, most of them helpless elderly men and women, were blown to pieces. Dozens more were wounded. The US military initially said "there were no errant weapons" in the attack. However, Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre later testified before Congress that it "was a case of the pilot getting confused."
The CIA was also apparently confused when it relied on what it claimed was an outdated map to approve a Stealth Bomber strike on what turned out to be the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Three Chinese journalists were killed and 27 other people were wounded. Some people aren't so sure the attack was an accident – Britain's Observer later reported that the US deliberately bombed the embassy after discovering it was being used to transmit Yugoslav army communications.
There were plenty of other accidents, some of them horrifically tragic and others just downright bizarre. Two separate attacks on the very Albanians NATO was claiming to help killed 160 people, many of them women and children. On April 14, NATO warplanes bombed refugees along a 12-mile (19-km) stretch of road between the towns of Gjakova and Deçan in western Kosovo, killing 73 people including 16 children and wounding 36 more. Journalists reported a grisly scene of "bodies charred or blown to pieces, tractors reduced to twisted wreckage and houses in ruins." Exactly one month later, another column of refugees was bombed near Koriša, killing 87 – mostly women, children and the elderly – and wounding 60 others. In the downright bizarre category, a wildly errant NATO missile struck a residential neighborhood in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, some 40 miles (64 km) outside of Serbia. The American AGM-88 HARM missile blew the roof off of a man's house while he was shaving in his bathroom.
NATO's "Murderous Thugs"
As the people of Yugoslavia were being terrorized by NATO's air war, the terrorists of the Kosovo Liberation Army stepped up their atrocities against Serbs and Roma in Kosovo. NATO troops deployed there to keep the peace often failed to protect these people from the KLA's brutal campaign. More than 164,000 Serbs fled or were forcibly driven from the Albanian-dominated province and by the summer of 2001 KLA ethnic cleansing had rendered Kosovo almost entirely Albanian, with just a few die-hard Serb holdouts living in fear and surrounded by barbed wire.
The KLA soon expanded its war into neighboring Macedonia. Although NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson called the terror group "murderous thugs," the United States – now with George W. Bush as president – continued to offer its invaluable support. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice personally intervened in an attempt to persuade Ukraine to halt arms sales to the Macedonian army and when a group of 400 KLA fighters were surrounded at Aracinovo in June 2001, NATO ordered Macedonian forces to hold off their attack while a convoy of US Army vehicles rescued the besieged militants. It later emerged that 17 American military advisers were embedded with the KLA at Aracinovo.
The bombing of Yugoslavia was really about preserving the credibility of the United States and NATO. The alliance's saber rattling toward Belgrade had painted it into a corner from which the only way out was with guns blazing. Failure to follow threats with deadly action, said President Clinton, "would discredit NATO." Clinton added that "our mission is clear, to demonstrate the seriousness of NATO's purpose." The president seemed willfully ignorant of NATO's real purpose, which is to defend member states from outside attack. British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed with Clinton, declaring on the eve of the war that "to walk away now would destroy NATO's credibility." Gary Dempsey, a foreign policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, wrote that the Clinton administration "transformed a conflict that posed no threat to the territorial integrity, national sovereignty or general welfare of the United States into a major test of American resolve."
Waging or prolonging war for credibility's sake is always dangerous and seems always to yield disastrous results. Tens of thousands of US troops and many times as many Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian soldiers and civilians died while Richard Nixon sought an "honorable" way out of Vietnam. Ronald Reagan's dogged defense of US credibility cost the lives of 299 American and French troops killed in Hezbollah's 1983 Beirut barracks bombing. This time, ensuring American credibility meant backing the vicious KLA – some of whose fighters had trained at Osama bin Laden's terror camps in Afghanistan. This, despite the fact that al-Qaeda had already been responsible for deadly attacks against the United States, including the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
It is highly questionable whether bombing Yugoslavia affirmed NATO's credibility in the short term. In the long term, it certainly did not. The war marked the first and only time NATO had ever attacked a sovereign state. It did so unilaterally, absent any threat to any member nation, and without the approval of the United Nations Security Council. "If NATO can go for military action without international blessing, it calls into question the reliability of NATO as a security partner," Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, then Moscow's ambassador to NATO, told me at a San Francisco reception.
Twenty years later, Operation Allied force has been all but forgotten in the United States. In a country that has been waging nonstop war on terrorism for almost the entire 21st century, the 1999 NATO air war is but a footnote in modern American history. Serbs, however, still seethe at the injustice and hypocrisy of it all. The bombed-out ruins of the old Yugoslav Ministry of Defense, Radio Television of Serbia headquarters and other buildings serve as constant, painful reminders of the horrors endured by the Serbian people in service of NATO's credibility.
Brett Wilkins is a San Francisco-based author and activist. His work, which focuses on issues of war and peace and human rights, is archived at www.brettwilkins.comRead more by Brett Wilkins
- IHCHR: 11,800 Civilians Killed In US-Led Air Strikes in Syria, Iraq – February 22nd, 2019
- Why Must Ilhan Omar Apologize for Telling the Truth? – February 13th, 2019
- Elliott Abrams: A Human Rights Horror Show in Three Acts – February 1st, 2019
- Former Blackwater Guard Found Guilty of Murder for Role in Nisour Square Massacre – December 20th, 2018
- Afghan Officials: US Air Strike Kills at Least 30 Civilians, Including 16 Children – November 28th, 2018
Mar 23, 2019 | twitter.com
MoveOn 1:32 PM - 21 Mar 2019
& the list of 2020 presidential candidates who have made the decision to
#SkipAIPAC continues to grow. Thank you for your leadership here @PeteButtigieg , @ewarren , @BernieSanders , @KamalaHarris , @JulianCastro , @BetoORourke , @JayInslee ... who is next?
Mar 22, 2019 | twitter.com
Mike Gravel 9:37 AM - 22 Mar 2019
Don't ever think the Democratic establishment is your friend. They want you to die in foreign wars and your children to work in starvation-wage service jobs until they're 70 so that the top 0.1% can buy their kids' way into Yale
Navi 9:50 AM - 22 Mar 2019
"It's already happening" while the DCCC is trying their best to stop primary challenges is a little shortsighted no? If you don't call out what is wrong what are you really 'fixing'? We can walk and chew gum at the same time!
Mar 20, 2019 | www.aol.com
In 2016, Cannon wrote that Warren would indeed bring more warmth than Clinton, pointing to an anecdote she shared on Facebook about how she would bake her mother a "heart shaped cake" as a child. He contrasted that with Clinton's sarcastic "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies" comment from 1992 , which was a response to ongoing questions about why she chose to continue her law practice when her husband was governor of Arkansas.
For some Bernie Sanders supporters, meanwhile, praising Warren was a way to deflect accusations of sexism. In a 2016 Huffington Post opinion piece titled, "I Despise Hillary Clinton And It Has Nothing to Do With Her Gender," Isaac Saul wrote that he "and many Sanders supporters would vote for Elizabeth Warren if she were in the race over Hillary or Bernie." ( Saul apologized to Clinton for being a "smug young journalist" and "Bernie Bro" in a follow up article months later, writing that his views of her changed after he endeavored to learn more about her history).
So what's going on here? Has Warren become incredibly unlikable over the past two years? Or is this change more an indication of her growing power. High-achieving women, sociologist Marianne Cooper wrote in a 2013 Harvard Business Review article , are judged differently than men because "their very success -- and specifically the behaviors that created that success -- violates our expectations about how women are supposed to behave." When women act competitively or assertively rather than warm and nurturing, Cooper writes, they "elicit pushback from others for being insufficiently feminine and too masculine." As a society, she says, "we are deeply uncomfortable with powerful women. In fact, we don't often really like them."
Nov 02, 2017 | www.washingtonpost.com
The former interim head of the Democratic Party just accused Hillary Clinton's campaign of "unethical" conduct that "compromised the party's integrity." The Clinton campaign's alleged sin: A hostile takeover of the Democratic National Committee before her primary with Sen. Bernie Sanders had concluded.
Donna Brazile's op-ed in Politico is the equivalent of taking the smoldering embers of the 2016 primary and throwing some gasoline on them. Just about everything she says in the piece will inflame Sanders's passionate supporters who were already suspicious of the Democratic establishment and already had reason to believe -- based on leaked DNC emails -- that the committee wasn't as neutral in the primary as it was supposed to be.
But the op-ed doesn't break too much new provable, factual ground, relying more upon Brazile's own perception of the situation and hearsay. In the op-ed, Brazile says:
Clinton's campaign took care of the party's debt and "put it on a starvation diet. It had become dependent on her campaign for survival, for which [Clinton] expected to wield control of its operations." She described Clinton's control of the DNC as a "cancer." Gary Gensler, the chief financial officer of Clinton's campaign, told her the DNC was (these are Brazile's words) "fully under the control of Hillary's campaign, which seemed to confirm the suspicions of the Bernie camp." She "couldn't write a news release without passing it by Brooklyn."
Then-Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose pressured resignation after the leaked emails left Brazile in charge as interim chairwoman, "let Clinton's headquarters in Brooklyn do as it desired" because she didn't want to tell the party's leaders how dire the DNC's financial situation was. Brazile says Wasserman Schultz arranged a $2 million loan from the Clinton campaign without the consent of party officers like herself, contrary to party rules.
Brazile sums it up near the end: "If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party's integrity."
None of this is truly shocking. In fact, Brazile is largely writing about things we already knew about. The joint fundraising agreement between the Clinton campaign and the DNC was already known about and the subject of derision among Sanders's supporters. But it's worth noting that Sanders was given a similar opportunity and passed on using it, as Brazile notes.
There were also those emails from the DNC hack released by WikiLeaks that showed some at the DNC were hardly studiously neutral . One email chain discussed bringing Sanders's Jewish religion into the campaign, others spoke of him derisively, and in one a lawyer who worked for both Clinton and the DNC advised the committee on how to respond to questions about the Clinton joint fundraising committee. The emails even cast plenty of doubt on Brazile's neutrality, given she shared with the Clinton campaign details of questions to be asked at a pair of CNN forums for the Democratic candidates in March 2016, before she was interim chair but when she was still a DNC official. Brazile, who was a CNN pundit at the time, lost her CNN job over that.
The timeline here is also important. Many of those emails described above came after it was abundantly clear that Clinton would be the nominee, barring a massive and almost impossible shift in primary votes. It may have been in poor taste and contrary to protocol, but the outcome was largely decided long before Sanders ended his campaign. Brazile doesn't dwell too much on the timeline, so it's not clear exactly how in-the-bag Clinton had the nomination when the alleged takeover began. It's also not clear exactly what Clinton got for her alleged control.
This is also somewhat self-serving for Brazile, given the DNC continued to struggle during and after her tenure, especially financially . The op-ed is excerpted from her forthcoming book, "Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House." Losses like the one in 2016 will certainly lead to plenty of finger-pointing, and Brazile's book title and description allude to it containing plenty of that.
But taking on the Clintons is definitely something that most in the party wouldn't take lightly. And Brazile's allegation that Clinton was effectively controlling the DNC is the kind of thing that could lead to some further soul-searching and even bloodletting in the Democratic Party. It's largely been able to paper over its internal divisions since the primary season in 2016, given the great unifier for Democrats that is President Trump.
Sanders himself has somewhat toned down his criticism of the DNC during that span, but what he says -- especially given he seems to want to run again in 2020 -- will go a long way in determining how the party moves forward.
Mar 15, 2019 | www.nytimes.com
... ... ...
Warren is trying to treat not just the symptoms but the underlying disease. She has proposed a universal child-care and pre-K program that echoes the universal high school movement of the early 20th century. She favors not only a tougher approach to future mergers, as many Democrats do, but also a breakup of Facebook and other tech companies that have come to resemble monopolies. She wants to require corporations to include worker representatives on their boards -- to end the era of "shareholder-value maximization," in which companies care almost exclusively about the interests of their shareholders, often at the expense of their workers, their communities and their country.
Warren was also the first high-profile politician to call for an annual wealth tax , on fortunes greater than $50 million. This tax is the logical extension of research by the economist Thomas Piketty and others, which has shown how extreme wealth perpetuates itself. Historically, such concentration has often led to the decline of powerful societies. Warren, unlike some Democrats, comfortably explains that she is not socialist. She is a capitalist and, like Franklin D. Roosevelt, is trying to save American capitalism from its own excesses.
"Sometimes, bigger ideas are more possible to accomplish," Warren told me during a recent conversation about the economy at her Washington apartment. "Because you can inspire people."
... ... ...
Warren's agenda is a series of such bold ideas. She isn't pushing for a byzantine system of tax credits for child care. She wants a universal program of pre-K and child care, administered locally, with higher pay for teachers and affordable tuition for families.
And to anyone who asks, "But how will you pay for that?" Warren has an answer. Her wealth tax would raise more than $250 billion a year, about four times the estimated cost of universal child care. She is, in her populist way, the fiscal conservative in the campaign.
... ... ...
David Leonhardt is a former Washington bureau chief for the Times, and was the founding editor of The Upshot and head of The 2020 Project, on the future of the Times newsroom. He won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, for columns on the financial crisis. @DLeonhardt • Facebook [Sign up for David Leonhardt's daily newsletter with commentary on the news and reading suggestions from around the web.]
Mar 20, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. This post focuses on an important slice of history in what "freedom" has meant in political discourse in the US. But I wish it had at least mentioned how a well-funded, then extreme right wing effort launched an open-ended campaign to render US values more friendly to business. They explicitly sought to undo New Deal programs and weaken or end other social safety nets. Nixon Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell codified the strategy for this initiative in the so-called Powell Memo of 1971.
One of the most effective spokesmen for this libertarian program was Milton Friedman, whose bestseller Free to Choose became the foundation for a ten-part TV series.
By Thom Hartman, a talk-show host and author of more than 25 books in print . He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute . Produced by the Independent Media Institute
America is having a heated debate about the meaning of the word socialism . We'd be better served if, instead, we were debating the meaning of freedom .
The Oregonian reported last week that fully 156,000 families are on the edge of homelessness in our small-population state. Every one of those households is now paying more than 50 percent of its monthly income on rent, and none of them has any savings; one medical bill, major car repair or job loss, and they're on the streets.
While socialism may or may not solve their problem, the more pressing issue we have is an entire political party and a huge sector of the billionaire class who see homelessness not as a problem, but as a symptom of a "free" society.
The words freedom and liberty are iconic in American culture -- probably more so than with any other nation because they're so intrinsic to the literature, declarations and slogans of our nation's founding.
The irony -- of the nation founded on the world's greatest known genocide (the systematic state murder of tens of millions of Native Americans) and over three centuries of legalized slavery and a century and a half of oppression and exploitation of the descendants of those slaves -- is extraordinary. It presses us all to bring true freedom and liberty to all Americans.
But what do those words mean?
If you ask the Koch brothers and their buddies -- who slap those words on pretty much everything they do -- you'd get a definition that largely has to do with being "free" from taxation and regulation. And, truth be told, if you're morbidly rich, that makes a certain amount of sense, particularly if your main goal is to get richer and richer, regardless of your behavior's impact on working-class people, the environment, or the ability of government to function.
On the other hand, the definition of freedom and liberty that's been embraced by so-called "democratic socialist" countries -- from Canada to almost all of Europe to Japan and Australia -- you'd hear a definition that's closer to that articulated by Franklin D. Roosevelt when he proposed, in January 1944, a " second Bill of Rights " to be added to our Constitution.
FDR's proposed amendments included the right to a job, and the right to be paid enough to live comfortably; the right to "adequate food and clothing and recreation"; the right to start a business and run it without worrying about "unfair competition and domination by monopolies"; the right "of every family to a decent home"; the right to "adequate medical care to achieve and enjoy good health"; the right to government-based "protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment"; and the right "to a good education."
Roosevelt pointed out that, "All of these rights spell security." He added, "America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world."
The other nations mentioned earlier took President Roosevelt's advice to heart. Progressive "social democracy" has kept Europe, Canada, and the developed nations of the East and South Pacific free of war for almost a century -- a mind-boggling feat when considering the history of the developed world since the 1500s.
Just prior to FDR winning the White House in the election of 1932, the nation had been treated to 12 years of a bizarre Republican administration that was the model for today's GOP. In 1920, Warren Harding won the presidency on a campaign of "more industry in government, less government in industry" -- privatize and deregulate -- and a promise to drop the top tax rate of 91 percent down to 25 percent.
He kept both promises, putting the nation into a sugar-high spin called the Roaring '20s, where the rich got fabulously rich and working-class people were being beaten and murdered by industrialists when they tried to unionize. Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover (the three Republican presidents from 1920 to 1932) all cheered on the assaults, using phrases like "the right to work" to describe a union-free nation.
In the end, the result of the " horses and sparrows " economics advocated by Harding ("feed more oats to the horses and there'll be more oats in the horse poop to fatten the sparrows" -- that generation's version of trickle-down economics) was the Republican Great Depression (yes, they called it that until after World War II).
Even though Roosevelt was fabulously popular -- the only president to be elected four times -- the right-wingers of his day were loud and outspoken in their protests of what they called "socialist" programs like Social Security, the right to unionize, and government-guaranteed job programs including the WPA, REA, CCC, and others.
The Klan and American Nazis were assembling by the hundreds of thousands nationwide -- nearly 30,000 in Madison Square Garden alone -- encouraged by wealthy and powerful "economic royalists" preaching "freedom" and " liberty ." Like the Kochs' Freedomworks , that generation's huge and well-funded (principally by the DuPonts' chemical fortune) organization was the Liberty League .
Roosevelt's generation had seen the results of this kind of hard-right "freedom" rhetoric in Italy, Spain, Japan and Germany, the very nations with which we were then at war.
Speaking of "the grave dangers of 'rightist reaction' in this Nation," Roosevelt told America in that same speech that: "[I]f history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called 'normalcy' of the 1920s -- then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home."
Although right-wingers are still working hard to disassemble FDR's New Deal -- the GOP budget for 2019 contains massive cuts to Social Security, as well as to Medicare and Medicaid -- we got halfway toward his notion of freedom and liberty here in the United States:You're not free if you're old and deep in poverty, so we have Social Security (although the GOP wants to gut it). You're not free if you're hungry, so we have food stamps/SNAP (although the GOP wants to gut them). You're not free if you're homeless, so we have housing assistance and homeless shelters (although the GOP fights every effort to help homeless people). You're not free if you're sick and can't get medical care, so we have Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare (although the GOP wants to gut them all). You're not free if you're working more than 40 hours a week and still can't meet basic expenses, so we have minimum wage laws and the right to unionize (although the GOP wants to gut both). You're not free if you can't read, so we have free public schools (although the GOP is actively working to gut them). You're not free if you can't vote, so we've passed numerous laws to guarantee the right to vote (although the GOP is doing everything it can to keep tens of millions of Americans from voting).
The billionaire class and their wholly owned Republican politicians keep trying to tell us that "freedom" means the government doesn't provide any of the things listed above.
Instead, they tell us (as Ron Paul famously did in a GOP primary debate years ago) that, if we're broke and sick, we're "free" to die like a feral dog in the gutter.
Freedom is homelessness, in the minds of the billionaires who own the GOP.
Poverty, lack of education, no access to health care, poor-paying jobs, and barriers to voting are all proof of a free society, they tell us, which is why America's lowest life expectancy, highest maternal and childhood death rates, lowest levels of education, and lowest pay are almost all in GOP-controlled states .
America -- particularly the Democratic Party -- is engaged in a debate right now about the meaning of socialism . It would be a big help for all of us if we were, instead, to have an honest debate about the meaning of the words freedom and liberty .
cuibono , , March 20, 2019 at 2:53 am
Know Your Rights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lfInFVPkQs
WheresOurTeddy , , March 20, 2019 at 12:28 pm
I have been informed by Fox that knowing your rights is un-American
everydayjoe , , March 20, 2019 at 4:26 am
Let us not forget the other propaganda arm of Republican party and big money- Fox news. They spew the freedom nonsense while not adhering to any definition of the word.
I worked in the midwest as an Engineer in the 90s to early 2000s and saw plants being gutted/shifted overseas, Union influence curtailed and mid level and bottom pay stay flat for decades; all in the name of free market.
Sadly the same families that are the worst affected vote Republican! But we know all this and have known it for a while. What will change?
lyman alpha blob , , March 20, 2019 at 8:00 am
They want freedom -- for the wolves to eat the sheep.
PKMKII , , March 20, 2019 at 1:08 pm
And then act like it's fair because they don't have laws against the sheep eating the wolves.
Norb , , March 20, 2019 at 8:39 am
The intro to this post is spot on. The Powell memo outlined a strategy for a corporate coup d'eta. Is was completely successful. Now that the business class rules America, their only vision is to continue the quest and cannibalize the country and enslave its people by any means possible. What tools do they use to achieve these ends? -- debt, fear, violence and pandering to human vanity as a motivator. Again, very successful.
Instead of honest public debate- which is impossible when undertaken with liars and thieves, a good old manifesto or pamphlet like Common Sense is in order. Something calling out concrete action that can be taken by commoners to regain their social respect and power. That should scare the living daylights out of the complacent and smug elite.
Its that, or a lot of public infrastructure is gong to be broken up by the mob- which doesn't work out in the long run. The nations that learn to work with and inspire their populations will prosper- the rest will have a hard time of it. Look no further than America's fall.
Carla , , March 20, 2019 at 12:00 pm
Thank you, Norb. You've inspired me to start by reading Common Sense.
Jamie S , , March 20, 2019 at 9:13 am
This piece raises some important points, but aims too narrowly at one political party, when the D-party has also been complicit in sharing the framing of "freedom" as less government/regulation/taxation. After all, it was the Clinton administration that did welfare "reform", deregulation of finance, and declared the end of the era of "big government", and both Clinton and Obama showed willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare in a "grand bargain".
WJ , , March 20, 2019 at 12:10 pm
If in place of "the GOP," the author had written, "The national Democratic and Republican parties over the past fifty years," his claim would be much more accurate. To believe what he says about "the GOP," you have to pretend that Clinton, and Obama, and Pelosi, and Schumer, and Feinstein simply don't exist and never did. The author's implicit valorization of Obamacare is even more disheartening.
But perhaps this is the *point* of the piece after all? If I were a consultant to the DNC (and I make less than $100,000/yr so I am clearly not), I would advocate that they commission, underscore, and reward pieces exactly like this one. For the smartest ones surely grasp that the rightist oligarchic policy takeover has in fact happened, and that it has left in its wake millions of disaffected, indebted, uneducated, uninsured Americans.
(Suggesting that it hadn't was the worst idiocy of Clinton's 2016 campaign. It would have been much better had she admitted it and blamed it on the Republican Senate while holding dear old Obama up as a hamstrung martyr for the cause. I mean, this is what everybody at DailyKos already believes, and the masses -- being poor and uneducated and desperate -- can be brought around to believe anything, or anyway, enough of them can be.)
I would advocate that the DNC double down on its rightful claims to Roosevelt's inheritance, embrace phrases like "social democracy" and "freedom from economic insecurity," and shift leftward in all its official rhetoric. Admit the evisceration of the Roosevelt tradition, but blame it all on the GOP. Maybe *maybe* even acknowledge that past Democratic leaders were a little naive and idealistic in their pursuit of bipartisanship, and did not understand the truly horrible intentions of the GOP. But today's Democrats are committed to wresting back the rights of the people from the evil clutches of the Koch Republicans. This sort of thing.
Would my advice be followed? Or would the *really* smart ones in the room demure? If so, why do you think they would?
In short, I read this piece as one stage in an ongoing dialectic in the Democratic Party in the run-up to the 2020 election wherein party leaders try to determine how leftward its "official" rhetoric is able to sway before becoming *so* unbelievable (in light of historical facts) that it cannot serve as effective propaganda -- even among Americans!
NotTimothyGeithner , , March 20, 2019 at 1:34 pm
Team Blue elites are the children of Bill Clinton and the Third Way, so the echo chamber was probably terrible. Was Bill Clinton a bad President? He was the greatest Republican President! The perception of this answer is a key. Who rose and joined Team Blue through this run? Many Democrats don't recognize this, or they don't want to rock the boat. This is the structural problem with Team Blue. The "generic Democrat" is AOC, Omar, Sanders, Warren, and a handful of others.
Can the Team Blue elites embrace a Roosevelt identity? The answer is no. Their ideology is so wildly divergent they can't adjust without a whole sale conversion.
More succinctly, the Third Way isn't about helping Democrats win by accepting not every battle can be won. Its about advancing right wing politics and pretending this isn't what its about. If they are too clear about good policy, they will be accused of betrayal.
jefemt , , March 20, 2019 at 9:18 am
Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose Kris Kristofferson
shinola , , March 20, 2019 at 1:06 pm
"nothin' ain't worth nothin' but it's free"
Trick Shroade , , March 20, 2019 at 9:46 am
The modern GOP has a very brutalist interpretation of Christianity, one where the money changers bring much needed liquidity to the market.
where , , March 20, 2019 at 12:30 pm
it's been 2 generations, but we assure you, the wealth will eventually trickle down
Dwight , , March 20, 2019 at 1:51 pm
Be patient, the horse has to digest your oat.
The Rev Kev , , March 20, 2019 at 10:13 am
This article makes me wonder if the GOP is still a political party anymore. I know, I know, they have the party structure, the candidates, the budget and all the rest of it but when you look at their policies and what they are trying to do, the question does arise. Are they doing it because this is what they believe is their identity as a party or is it that they are simply a vehicle with the billionaires doing the real driving and recruiting? An obvious point is that among billionaires, they see no need to form their own political party which should be telling clue. Certainly the Democrats are no better.
Maybe the question that American should ask themselves is just what does it mean to be an American in the year 2020? People like Norman Rockwell and his Four Freedoms could have said a lot of what it meant some 60 years ago and his work has been updated to reflect the modern era ( https://www.galeriemagazine.com/norman-rockwell-four-freedoms-modern/ ) but the long and the short of it is that things are no longer working for most people anymore -- and not just in America. But a powerful spring can only be pushed back and held in place for so long before there is a rebound effect and I believe that I am seeing signs of this the past few years.
GF , , March 20, 2019 at 11:06 am
And don't forget FRD's Second Bill of Rights:
" a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all -- regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security."
Frank Little , , March 20, 2019 at 10:20 am
America is having a heated debate about the meaning of the word socialism. We'd be better served if, instead, we were debating the meaning of freedom.
I agree, and we should also be having a debate about capitalism as it actually exists. In the US capitalism is always talked about in rosy non-specific terms (e.g. a preference for markets or support for entrepreneurship) while anybody who says they don't necessarily support capitalism has to answer for Stalin's gulag's or the Khmer Rouge. All the inequalities and injustices that have helped people like Howard Schultz or Jeff Bezos become billionaire capitalists somehow aren't part of capitalism, just different problems to be solved somehow but definitely not by questioning capitalism.
Last night I watched the HBO documentary on Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos and I couldn't help but laugh at all these powerful politicians, investors, and legal giants going along with someone who never once demonstrated or even explained how her groundbreaking innovation actually worked. $900 million was poured into that company before people realized something that a Stanford professor interviewed in the documentary saw when she first met Holmes. Fracking companies have been able to consistently raise funding despite consistently losing money and destroying the environment in the process. Bank balance sheets were protected while working people lost everything in the name of preserving American capitalism. I think it's good to debate socialism and capitalism, but there's not really any point if we aren't going to be talking about Actually Existing Capitalism rather than the hypothetical version that's trotted out anytime someone suggests an alternative.
Trick Shroade , , March 20, 2019 at 10:53 am
There was a great comment here on NC a little while ago, something to the effect of "capitalism has the logic of a cancer cell. It's a pile of money whose only goal is to become a bigger pile of money." Of course good things can happen as a side effect of it becoming a bigger pile of money: innovation, efficiencies, improved standard of living, etc. but we need government (not industry) regulation to keep the bad side effects of capitalism in check (like the cancer eventually killing its host).
Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 12:21 pm
"efficiency" is very often not good for the Commons, in the long term.
Frank Little , , March 20, 2019 at 12:31 pm
Shoot, must have missed that comment but it's a good metaphor. Reminds me of Capital vol. 1, which Marx starts with a long and dense treatment of the nature of commodities and commodification in order to capture this process whereby capitalists produce things people really do want or need in order to get at what they really want: return on their investment.
Jack Gavin , , March 20, 2019 at 12:36 pm
I also agree but I think we need to have a the same heated debate over what capitalism means. Over the years I have been subjected to (exposed) to more flavors of socialism than I can count. Yet, other than an introductory economics class way back when, no debatable words about what 'capitalism' is seems to get attention. Maybe it's time to do that and hope that some agreeable definition of 'freedom' falls out.
jrs , , March 20, 2019 at 12:42 pm
of course maybe socialism is the only thing that ever really could solve homelessness, given that it seems to be at this point a worldwide problem, although better some places than others (like the U.S. and UK).
Stratos , , March 20, 2019 at 11:11 am
This article lets the Dems off the hook. They have actively supported the Billionaire Agenda for decades now; sometimes actively (like when they helped gut welfare) and sometimes by enabling Repubs objectives (like voter suppression).
At this point in time, the Dem leadership is working to deep six Medicare for All.
With 'friends' like the Dems, who needs the Repubs?
WheresOurTeddy , , March 20, 2019 at 12:30 pm
our last democratic president was Carter
thump , , March 20, 2019 at 12:38 pm
1) In the history, a mention of the attempted coup against FDR would be good. See The Plot to Seize the White House by Jules Archer. ( Amazon link )
2) For the contemporary intellectual history, I really appreciated Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains . ( Amazon link ) Look her up on youtube or Democracy Now . Her book got a bit of press and she interviews well.
Bob of Newton , , March 20, 2019 at 1:58 pm
Please refer to these folks as 'rightwingers'. There are Democratic as well as Republicans who believe in this type of 'freedom'.
Jerry B , , March 20, 2019 at 2:38 pm
This post seems heavily slanted against the GOP and does not take into account how pro-business the Democrats have become. I tenuously agree with Yves intro that much of the current pro business value system campaign in the US was started with the political far right and the Lewis Powell Memo. And that campaign kicked into high gear during the Reagan Presidency.
But as that "pro business campaign" gained steam, the Democratic Party, IMO, realized that they could partake in the "riches" as well and sold their political soul for a piece of the action. Hartman's quote about the billionaire class should include their "wholly owned Republicans and Democrat politicians".
As Lambert mentions (paraphrasing), "The left puts the working class first. Both liberals and conservatives put markets first, liberals with many more layers of indirection (e.g., complex eligibility requirements, credentialing) because that creates niches from which their professional base benefits".
As an aside, while the pro-business/capitalism on steroids people have sought more "freedom", they have made the US and the world less free for the rest of us.
Also the over focusing on freedom is not uniquely GOP. As Hartman mentions, "the words freedom and liberty are iconic in American culture -- probably more so than with any other nation because they're so intrinsic to the literature, declarations and slogans of our nation's founding." US culture has taken the concept of freedom to an extreme version of individualism.
That is not surprising given our history.
The DRD4 gene is a dopamine receptor gene. One stretch of the gene is repeated a variable number of times, and the version with seven repeats (the "7R" form) produces a receptor protein that is relatively unresponsive to dopamine. Being unresponsive to dopamine means that people who have this gene have a host of related traits -- sensation and novelty seeking, risk taking, impulsivity, and, probably most consistently, ADHD. -- -- Seems like the type of people that would value extreme (i.e. non-collective) forms of freedom
The United States is the individualism poster child for at least two reasons. First there's immigration. Currently, 12 percent of Americans are immigrants, another 12 percent are children of immigrants, and everyone else except for the 0.9 percent pure Native Americans descend from people who emigrated within the last five hundred years.
And who were the immigrants?' Those in the settled world who were cranks, malcontents, restless, heretical, black sheep, hyperactive, hypomanic, misanthropic, itchy, unconventional, yearning to be free, yearning to be rich, yearning to be out of their, damn boring repressive little hamlet, yearning. -- -- Again seems like the type of people that would value freedom in all aspects of life and not be interested in collectivism
Couple that with the second reason -- for the majority of its colonial and independent history, America has had a moving frontier luring those whose extreme prickly optimism made merely booking passage to the New World insufficiently, novel -- and you've got America the individualistic.
The 7R variant mentioned above occurs in about 23 percent of Europeans and European Americans. And in East Asians? 1 percent. When East Asians domesticated rice and invented collectivist society, there was massive selection against the 7R variant. Regardless of the cause, East Asian cultural collectivism coevolved with selection against the 7R variant.
So which came first, 7R frequency or cultural style? The 4R and 7R variants, along with the 2R, occur worldwide, implying they already existed when humans radiated out of Africa 60,000 to 130,000 years ago. A high incidence of 7R, associated with impulsivity and novelty seeking, is the legacy of humans who made the greatest migrations in human history.
So it seems that many of the people who immigrated to the US were impulsive, novelty seeking, risk takers. As a counterpoint, many people that migrated to the US did not do so by choice but were forced from their homes and their countries by wars.
The point of this long comment is that for some people the concept of freedom can be taken to extreme -- a lack of gun control laws, financial regulation, extremes of wealth, etc. After a brief period in the 1940's, 1950's, and early 1960's when the US was more collective, we became greedy, consumerist, and consumption oriented, aided by the political and business elites as mentioned in the post.
If we want the US to be a more collective society we have to initially do so in our behaviors i.e. laws and regulations that rein in the people who would take the concept of freedom to an extreme. Then maybe over an evolutionary time period some of the move impulsive, sensation seeking, ADHDness, genes can be altered to a more balance mix of what makes the US great with more of the collective genes.
IMO, if we do not begin to work on becoming a collective culture now, then climate change, water scarcity, food scarcity, and resource scarcity will do it for us the hard way.
In these days of short attention spans I apologize for the long comment. The rest of my day is busy and I do not have more time to shorten the comment. I wanted to develop an argument for how the evolutionary and dysfunctional forms of freedom have gotten us to this point. And what we need to do to still have some freedom but also "play nice and share in the future sandbox of climate change and post fossil fuel society.
Jul 07, 2011 | bloomberg.com
Elizabeth Warren has infuriated bankers and alienated half of Washington, all in the name of a new consumer protection agency she may not get to runElizabeth Warren's admirers often refer to her as a grandmother from Oklahoma. This is technically true. It's also what you might call posturing. Warren, 62, is a Harvard professor and perhaps the country's top expert on bankruptcy law. Over the past four years she has managed to stoke a fervent debate over the government's role in protecting American consumers from what she sees as the predatory practices of financial institutions, and she has positioned herself as the person to oversee a new federal agency to rewrite the rules of lending. Warren is a grandma from Oklahoma in roughly the same way Ralph Nader is a pensioner with a thing about cars.
If the grandmother perception is plausible, it's largely because Warren has a gift for parables and for placing herself in the middle of them as the embodiment of moral force. Thus, her account of the precise moment she realized that changing the way banks lend was going to require a new federal bureaucracy -- and that it was up to her to create it.
Warren begins her tale in the spring of 2007, before the housing crash and the financial crisis. She was on a plane back to Boston after a series of discouraging meetings with credit-card company executives. She had tried to sell them on an idea called the "clean card" that grew out of her academic work and her side gig as a guest on such shows as Dr. Phil , where she dispensed empathy and advice to audience members who were one bad check away from losing everything. The concept was simple: Offer the equivalent of a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval to any credit-card company that disclosed all of its costs and fees up front, no fine print.
After a few meetings in which she was politely rebuffed, one executive walked Warren to the door and, with his arm around her, let her in on a trade secret: If he admitted that his card's actual rate was 17 percent, while his competitors were still claiming theirs was only 2.9 percent, his customers would desert him for the seemingly cheaper option, seal of approval or not. No credit-card company would ever go along with a clean card unless all of them did. And the only way to get all of them to do it was to require it by law.
At this point, Warren says, the banker made a confession. "We recognize that we have an unsustainable model, and it cannot work forever," she says he told her. "If we told people how much these things cost, they wouldn't use them."
Here she pauses for effect, and to take a sip of herbal tea. Warren is slight and kinetic, with wide, pale blue eyes behind rimless glasses. She punctuates her sentences with exclamations like "Holy guacamole!" It's difficult to tell whether these are spontaneous or deliberately deployed to soften her imposing professorial mien. Warren, who grew up poor and went to college on a debate scholarship, understands the power of expression. When she wants to underline a point, she leans in to conspire with her listener; then her voice goes quiet, as it does when she says she knew instantly the condescending executive was right. Her clean card was a flop.
And so, on the flight home, Warren turned to the problem of how to push those credit-card companies into doing the right thing. By landing time, she says, she had her answer: a powerful new federal agency whose sole mission would be to protect consumers, not only from confusing credit cards but from what she calls the "tricks and traps" of all dangerous financial products. The same way the Consumer Product Safety Commission guards against dangerous household products or the Food and Drug Administration watches out for contaminated produce and quack medications. The way Warren tells it, she pulled a piece of paper out of her backpack and got to work right there on the plane. "I started sketching out the problem and what the agency should look like."
It's a good story, even if the timeline is a little off. Warren's aides say she first pitched the idea of a consumer financial protection agency to then-Senator Barack Obama's office months before her fateful meeting with the executive. Whatever the idea's provenance, there's no doubting its influence. In a summer 2007 article in the journal Democracy , Warren outlined what her guardian agency would look like. "It is impossible to buy a toaster that has a one-in-five chance of bursting into flames and burning down your house," she wrote. "But it is possible to refinance an existing home with a mortgage that has the same one-in-five chance of putting the family out on the street -- and the mortgage won't even carry a disclosure of that fact to the homeowner." One was effectively regulated. The other was not.
The annals of academia are stuffed with provocative proposals. Most die in the library. A little over four years after she first dreamed it up, Warren's has become a reality. Last summer, President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a package of financial reforms meant to prevent another economic meltdown. One of the bill's pillars is Warren's watchdog agency, now called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
On July 21, exactly a year after Dodd-Frank became law, the CFPB is scheduled to open for business with a broad mandate to root out "unfair, deceptive, or abusive" lending practices. Consolidating functions previously scattered across seven different agencies, the bureau will have the power to dictate the terms of every consumer lending product on the market, from mortgages and credit cards to student, overdraft, and car loans. It will supervise not only banks and credit unions but credit-card companies, mortgage servicers, credit bureaus, debt collectors, payday lenders, and check-cashing shops. Dozens of researchers will track trends in the lending market and keep an eye on new products. Teams of examiners will prowl the halls of financial institutions to ensure compliance. The bureau is already at work on its first major initiative: simplifying the bewildering bank forms you sign when you buy a house.
Warren's life is a blur of building and promoting the agency she dreamed up -- and that she may never get to lead. On leave from Harvard, she has spent hundreds of hours on Capitol Hill visiting with members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, and flown across the country meeting with the heads of the nation's major banks and many smaller ones. If most financial firms have yet to embrace the bureau, she's made some headway, at least, among the community banks. "Some of my colleagues have not gotten there yet because they are convinced she's close to the antichrist," says Roger Beverage, the head of the Oklahoma Bankers Assn. "I don't think she's doing anything but speaking from the heart on community banks."
One other person she has not yet won over: Barack Obama. The President has not nominated her to head the bureau. Instead, last fall he gave her the title of special assistant to the President and special adviser to the Treasury and tasked her with getting the place up and running. For now, she is the non-head of a non-agency. The White House refuses to say whether Obama will eventually put her up for the job, allowing only that he is considering several candidates. In the coded language of appointment politics, it is a signal that they are seriously considering passing Warren over for someone else. A White House official says the Administration would like to have a nominee in place before Congress leaves for its August recess.
There's a reason for their wariness. The White House is reluctant to antagonize congressional Republicans in the middle of contentious negotiations over the federal debt ceiling. Warren's position requires Senate approval, and Republicans, many of whom regard the CFPB as more clumsy government meddling in the free market, are vehemently opposed to allowing its creator to be installed at its helm. Republicans have used a parliamentary maneuver to keep the Senate from officially adjourning for its traditional summer break, thus depriving Obama of the opportunity to sidestep their objections and make Warren a recess appointment.
"She's probably a nice person, as far as I know," says Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Banking Committee, which will hold hearings on the eventual nominee for the post. Shelby has said Warren is too ideological to lead the agency, a judgment shared by many of his Republican colleagues. "She's a professor and all this," he says in a tone that makes it clear he is not paying her a compliment. "To think up something, to create something of this magnitude, and then look to be the head of it, I wouldn't do that," Shelby says. "It looks like you created yourself a good job, a good power thing."
Warren is not waiting for permission to do the job she may never get. She and her small team have hired hundreds of people, at a recent clip of more than 80 per month. The agency has already outgrown its office space and is divided between two buildings in downtown Washington -- with branches to be opened across the country. A fledgling staff of researchers is cranking out the CFPB's first reports, and its first bank examiners are being trained. Meanwhile, the office softball team has compiled a 2-3 record.
Above all, an institutional culture is emerging, and it is largely loyal to Warren and her idea of what the agency should be. She has attracted several top hires from outside the federal government. The bureau's chief operating officer, Catherine West, was previously president of Capital One; its head of research, Sendhil Mullainathan, is a behavioral economist and star Harvard professor; the chief of enforcement, Richard Cordray, is the former attorney general of Ohio; Raj Date, her deputy and head of the bureau's Research, Markets and Regulation Div., is a former banker at Capital One and Deutsche Bank. Warren, whose reputation as a scholar rests on her pioneering use of bankruptcy data, has imbued the place with her faith in quantitative analysis. Researchers she recruited and hired have begun to build the bureau's database of financial information, with a broad mandate to keep track of lending markets and find ways to make financial information more easily digestible.
While Washington bickers, Warren has built the CFPB largely to her specs and almost entirely free of interference from Congress and the Administration, which devotes most of its attention to fixing the economy. Few Cabinet secretaries can claim to have left as indelible a mark on the departments they lead as Elizabeth Warren has already left on the one she doesn't.
The CFPB's main offices are on two floors of a russet-colored office building a few blocks northwest of the White House. The government-gray cubicles and hallways spill over with new hires -- many of them young -- working 12- and 14-hour days elbow to elbow, pale and exuding a dogged cheerfulness that suggests that, no, they do not miss the sun. By the elevator bank is a calendar counting down the days until July 21.
Ten years ago, before she became a liberal icon, Warren was a popular Harvard professor known for taking a maternal interest in the students she chose as research assistants. She was famous, but only in the small corner of academia that cared about bankruptcy. "In my opinion she is the best bankruptcy scholar in the country," says Samuel Bufford, a law professor at Penn State who got to know Warren decades ago as a bankruptcy judge in California's Central District.
Work Warren did with Jay Westbrook, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and Teresa Sullivan, a sociologist who is now president of the University of Virginia, reshaped the scholarly understanding of bankruptcy. Analyzing thousands of filings and interviewing many of the debtors themselves, they found that those who go bankrupt weren't, as commonly assumed, primarily poor or financially reckless. A great many of them were solidly middle class and had been driven to bankruptcy by circumstances they did not choose or could not control: the loss of a job, a medical disaster, or a divorce. The explosion in consumer credit in recent decades had only exacerbated the situation -- almost without realizing it, households could now slide faster and further into debt than ever before.
Warren, Westbrook, and Sullivan all saw their bankruptcy findings as a window into the broader travails of the financially fragile middle class. More than her co-authors, though, Warren sought a larger audience for the message. In 2003, along with her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi, she wrote The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers & Fathers Are Going Broke , a book that combined arguments about the political and economic forces eroding middle-class financial stability with practical advice about how households could fight them. The language was sharper than in her academic work: "Subprime lending, payday loans, and the host of predatory, high-interest loan products that target minority neighborhoods should be called by their true names: legally sanctioned corporate plans to steal from minorities," Warren and Tyagi wrote.
The book got attention and Warren became a frequent TV guest. She was invited to give speeches and sit on panels on bankruptcy and debt. She was a regular on comedian Al Franken's radio show on the now defunct Air America network. "She's quite brilliant. She was always just an excellent guest," recalls Franken, now a Democratic U.S. Senator from Minnesota. "She has a very good sense of humor."
In 2003, Warren attended a fundraiser in Cambridge for Barack Obama, then running for U.S. Senate. When she walked up to shake his hand, he greeted her with two words: "predatory lending." As a senator, Obama would occasionally call Warren for her thoughts, though the two never became close.
It was the financial crisis that made Warren a star. In November 2008, in a nod to her growing reputation as a consumer advocate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid chose Warren to chair the congressional panel overseeing the TARP financial rescue program. The reports she helped produce over the next two and a half years and the hearings she helped lead gave the panel a higher profile than even its creators had predicted, as she articulated concerns that many Americans had about the wisdom of a massive Wall Street bailout. In perhaps her most famous moment, Warren grilled Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on AIG's share of the aid money and how it was that so much of it had ended up simply reimbursing the investment banks the insurer owed money.
Warren used her role on the panel, and the newfound visibility it gave her, to push for her agency. She worked the idea into a special report the committee released in January 2009, among a list of recommendations to head off fut ure financial crises. She wrote op-ed pieces, was on TV constantly, and met with at least 80 members of Congress. She also brought the idea to the Administration. Over a long lunch at an Indian restaurant in Washington, she pitched the concept to White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers, whom she knew from his tenure as Harvard's president. Inside Treasury, the idea was taken up by Michael Barr, a key architect of Dodd-Frank and a lawyer Warren had known for years. At least within the White House, Barr recalls, it wasn't hard to build support. "I think there was a general consensus that built pretty quickly that this was a good option," he says. "I didn't get any significant pushback on the idea." Barr's inside advocacy, combined with Warren's PR blitz, paid off. In June 2009, Obama released a "white paper" laying out his own financial regulatory proposals, and Warren's agency was in it.
Among the CFPB staff there is a strongly held belief that they have the opportunity not only to reshape an industry but reinvent what a government agency can be, to rescue the idea of bureaucracy from its association with sclerosis and timidity. People there emphasize that they are creating a 21st century agency. Still, there's a throwback Great Society feel to the place, with its faith in the abilities of very smart unelected administrators, armed with data, to iron out the inefficiencies and injustices of the world. "Nobody looks at consumer finance regulation as it existed over the past decade and says, 'Yeah, that seemed to work all right, let's do more of that,' " says Raj Date, a square-jawed 40-year-old who speaks in the confident, numbers-heavy parlance of Wall Street.
Regardless of whether the CFPB has a director by its July 21 "transfer date," there are certain things it will immediately begin to do. One is to send teams of examiners into banks and credit unions to make sure they are complying with existing consumer finance regulations. When the bureau is fully staffed up -- initially, it will have some 500 employees and an annual budget of around $500 million -- a majority of the people who work there will be examiners. The bureau has only supervisory power over banks with assets of more than $10 billion, though the rules it writes will still apply to smaller banks. Banks on the low end of the scale will see a team of examiners for a few weeks every two years, unless there are specific complaints to investigate. Most of the biggest banks, those with assets of $100 billion and up, will have CFPB examiners in residence year-round. The examiners will go to work parsing the terms of mortgages and other loans, searching for evidence of consumer harm. They'll look at how the products are marketed and sold to make sure it's done transparently, that costs and fees are disclosed up front.
What the bureau will not be able to do without a director is send its examiners into nonbank financial institutions. Dodd-Frank gives the CFPB jurisdiction over payday lenders, check cashers, mortgage brokers, student loan companies, and the like. Because this is an expansion of regulatory powers, it will not take effect until a permanent director is in place.
The bureau is less willing to discuss the specifics of what will happen when it finds evidence of wrongdoing. The press office refused to make the head of enforcement, Richard Cordray, available for an interview. Like other enforcement agencies, the CFPB will have a variety of measures at its fingertips: It will be able to give firms a talking-to, or issue so-called "supervisory guidance" papers on problematic financial products. It will be able to send cease-and-desist orders. And if all else fails, the bureau will be able to take offenders to court.
The CFPB will also have broad rule-making powers over everything from credit-card marketing campaigns to car loan terms to the size of bank overdraft fees. For now, it has confined itself to initiatives less likely to arouse wide opposition among financial firms. The major one at the moment is developing a clear, simple, two-page mortgage form that merges the two confusing ones borrowers now confront. Bureau staff met with consumer advocates and mortgage brokers last fall, then put up two versions of a possible new form on the bureau's website, where consumers were invited to leave critiques. About 14,000 people weighed in. The forms are now being shown to focus groups around the country. A new version is due out in August.
This lengthy process is meant to demonstrate the bureau's commitment to a sort of radical openness to counter accusations that it's a body of unaccountable bureaucrats. In another gesture, Warren's calendar is posted on the website so that anyone can see who has a claim on her time. The undeniable sense among bureau staffers that they are political targets tempers that commitment to transparency a bit. The press office is jittery about allowing reporters to talk to staff on the record, and Warren agreed to two interviews on the condition that Bloomberg Businessweek allow her to approve quotes before publication.
If the supervision and enforcement division is the long arm of the bureau, its eyes and brain will be Research, Markets and Regulations, headed by Raj Date. Teams of analysts will follow various markets -- credit cards, mortgages, or student loans -- to spot trends and examine new products. Economists and other social scientists on staff will help write financial disclosure forms that make intuitive sense. The benefits of this sort of work, Date argues, will extend beyond just protecting consumers. It will help spot signs of more systemic risks. If the bureau and its market research teams had been in place five years ago, he says, they would have spotted evidence of the coming mortgage meltdown and could have coordinated with the bureau's enforcement division to head it off. "If it was someone's job to be in touch with the marketplace and monitor what was going on," Date says, "it would have been very difficult not to notice that three different kinds of mortgages had gone from nothing to a very surprising share of the overall marketplace in the span of, honestly, like three years."
Were it not for a head of prematurely gray hair, Patrick McHenry could still pass for the college Republican he once was. Elected to Congress from North Carolina seven years ago at age 29, he speaks through an assiduous smile and arches his eyebrows as he listens -- furrowing them quizzically at arguments he disagrees with. In late May, McHenry assumed the role of Warren's chief antagonist in Congress. At an oversight hearing he was chairing, McHenry accused Warren of misleading Congress about whether she had given advice to Treasury and Justice Dept. officials who were investigating companies for mortgage fraud. McHenry said she had concealed her conversations. Warren insisted she had disclosed them.
The hearing then took a bizarre turn. McHenry called for a recess so members of the committee could go to the House floor for a vote. Warren replied that she had agreed to testify for an hour and could not stay any longer. "Congressman, you are causing problems," she said. "We had an agreement." Offended, McHenry shot back: "You're making this up, Ms. Warren. This is not the case." Warren's response, an outraged gasp, was played on cable news.
In a conversation a month later in his Capitol Hill office, McHenry is eager to emphasize that his problem is not with Warren, but with the bureau itself. That's not to say he feels he has anything to apologize for. "I've asked questions of a litany of Administration officials from Democrat and Republican Administrations, and I've never seen an action by any witness like I saw that day," he says.
Like most congressional Republicans -- and a broad array of business groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Financial Services Roundtable, and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions -- McHenry opposed the creation of the CFPB and voted against Dodd-Frank. At the time, the bureau's opponents argued that its seemingly noble goals would not only hurt financial firms -- depriving them of the ability to compensate for risky borrowers by charging higher interest rates -- they would also hurt borrowers. The prospect of limits on the sort of rates and fees they could charge would cause banks and payday lenders alike to lend less and to not lend at all to marginal borrowers at a time when the economy needed as much credit as it could get.
Where it's not actively harmful, McHenry argues, the bureau will be redundant. If there's fraud or deceptive marketing in the consumer lending market, the federal government can prosecute it through the Federal Trade Commission. Clearer mortgage forms are all well and good, but Congress can take care of that, he says, noting that he introduced legislation for a simpler mortgage form three years ago. In response to arguments like these, Warren simply points to the record of those existing regulators: the Fed and the Housing & Urban Development Dept. have haggled over a simpler mortgage form for years. As for fears that the bureau will cap the interest rates companies can charge, she notes that Dodd-Frank explicitly prevents it from doing that.
Warren has been uncharacteristically tightlipped about her own ambitions. She refuses to say whether she even wants the job and has never publicly expressed a desire for it. In a way, the White House may do her a favor by not nominating her. If the President decides to go with a compromise candidate to appease Republicans, she will be spared the indignity of being tossed aside. She can't be said to have lost a job she was never offered.
Yet Warren gives the distinct impression that she will not suffer long if the President passes her over. Harvard has more than its share of celebrity professors who have gone to Washington and returned. The experience could also lead to a different kind of life in politics: Democrats in Massachusetts have been urging her to come home to run for Senate against Republican Scott Brown. There would be books to write, television appearances to make, and, who knows, maybe a show of her own. And whatever happens, she will get to tell the second half of the story of how she started a government agency. Whether the story ends with her confirmation or being driven from town, it's almost certain that the character of Elizabeth Warren will come out looking just fine.( Corrects the year Elizabeth Warren moved to Washington to work at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau )
Oct 09, 2016 | nypost.comJudge gives deadline for arguments relating to unsealing Jeffrey Epstein documents Documents related to pedophile Jeffrey Epstein may be unsealed Pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's deal with feds was illegal: judge Northam has only himself to blame In 2005, the world was introduced to reclusive billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, friend to princes and an American president, a power broker with the darkest of secrets: He was also a pedophile, accused of recruiting dozens of underage girls into a sex-slave network, buying their silence and moving along, although he has been convicted of only one count of soliciting prostitution from a minor. Visitors to his private Caribbean island, known as "Orgy Island," have included Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew and Stephen Hawking.
According to a 2011 court filing by alleged Epstein victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre, she saw Clinton and Prince Andrew on the island but never saw the former president do anything improper. Giuffre has accused Prince Andrew of having sex with her when she was a minor, a charge Buckingham Palace denies.
"Epstein lives less than one mile away from me in Palm Beach," author James Patterson tells The Post. In the 11 years since Epstein was investigated and charged by the Palm Beach police department, ultimately copping a plea and serving 13 months on one charge of soliciting prostitution from a 14-year-old girl, Patterson has remained obsessed with the case.
"He's a fascinating character to read about," Patterson says. "What is he thinking? Who is he?"
Patterson's new book, "Filthy Rich: A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal That Undid Him, and All the Justice That Money Can Buy," is an attempt to answer such questions. Co-authored with John Connolly and Tim Malloy, the book contains detailed police interviews with girls who alleged sexual abuse by Epstein and others in his circle. Giuffre alleged that Epstein's ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late media tycoon Robert Maxwell, abused her. Ghislaine Maxwell has denied allegations of enabling abuse.
Epstein has spent the bulk of his adult life cultivating relationships with the world's most powerful men. Flight logs show that from 2001 to 2003, Bill Clinton flew on Epstein's private plane, dubbed "The Lolita Express" by the press, 26 times. After Epstein's arrest in July 2006, federal tax records show Epstein donated $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation that year.
Epstein was also a regular visitor to Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago, and the two were friends. According to the Daily Mail, Trump was a frequent dinner guest at Epstein's home, which was often full of barely dressed models. In 2003, New York magazine reported that Trump also attended a dinner party at Epstein's honoring Bill Clinton.
Last year, The Guardian reported that Epstein's "little black book" contained contact numbers for A-listers including Tony Blair, Naomi Campbell, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Bloomberg and Richard Branson.
In a 2006 court filing, Palm Beach police noted that a search of Epstein's home uncovered two hidden cameras. The Mirror reported that in 2015, a 6-year-old civil lawsuit filed by "Jane Doe No. 3," believed to be the now-married Giuffre, alleged that Epstein wired his mansion with hidden cameras, secretly recording orgies involving his prominent friends and underage girls. The ultimate purpose: blackmail, according to court papers.
"Jane Doe No. 3" also alleged that she had been forced to have sex with "numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, a well-known prime minister, and other world leaders."
"We uncovered a lot of details about the police investigation and a lot about the girls, what happened to them, the effect on their lives," Patterson says.
"The reader has to ask: Was justice done here or not?"
Epstein, now 63, has always been something of an international man of mystery. Born in Brooklyn, he had a middle-class upbringing: His father worked for the Parks Department, and his parents stressed hard work and education.
'We uncovered a lot of details about the police investigation and a lot about the girls, what happened to them, the effect on their lives.'- James Patterson
Epstein was brilliant, skipping two grades and graduating Lafayette High School in 1969. He attended Cooper Union but dropped out in 1971 and by 1973 was teaching calculus and physics at Dalton, where he tutored the son of a Bear Stearns exec. Soon, Epstein applied his facility with numbers on Wall Street but left Bear Stearns under a cloud in 1981. He formed his own business, J. Epstein & Co.
The bar for entry at the new firm was high. According to a 2002 profile in New York magazine, Epstein only took on clients who turned over $1 billion, at minimum, for him to manage. Clients also had to pay a flat fee and sign power of attorney over to Epstein, allowing him to do whatever he saw fit with their money.
Still, no one knew exactly what Epstein did, or how he was able to amass a personal billion-dollar-plus fortune. In addition to a block-long, nine-story mansion on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Epstein owns the $6.8 million mansion in Palm Beach, an $18 million property in New Mexico, the 70-acre private Caribbean island, a helicopter, a Gulfstream IV and a Boeing 727.
"My belief is that Jeff maintains some sort of money-management firm, though you won't get a straight answer from him," one high-level investor told New York magazine. "He once told me he had 300 people working for him, and I've also heard that he manages Rockefeller money. But one never knows. It's like looking at the Wizard of Oz -- there may be less there than meets the eye."
"He's very enigmatic," Rosa Monckton told Vanity Fair in 2003. Monckton was the former British CEO of Tiffany & Co. and confidante to the late Princess Diana. She was also a close friend of Epstein's since the 1980s. "He never reveals his hand . . . He's a classic iceberg. What you see is not what you get."
Both profiles intimated that Epstein had a predilection for young women but never went further. In the New York magazine piece, Trump said Epstein's self-professed image as a loner, an egghead and a teetotaler was not wholly accurate.
"I've known Jeff for 15 years," Trump said. "Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it -- Jeffrey enjoys his social life."
Three years after that profile ran, Palm Beach Police Officer Michele Pagan got a disturbing message. A woman reported that her 14-year-old stepdaughter confided to a friend that she'd had sex with an older man for money. The man's name was Jeff, and he lived in a mansion on a cul-de-sac.
Pagan persuaded the woman to bring her stepdaughter down to be interviewed. In his book, Patterson calls the girl Mary. And Mary, like so many of the other girls who eventually talked, came from the little-known working-class areas surrounding Palm Beach.
A friend of a friend, Mary said, told her she could make hundreds of dollars in one hour, just for massaging some middle-aged guy's feet. Lots of other girls had been doing it, some three times a week.
Mary claimed she had been driven to the mansion on El Brillo Way, where a female staffer escorted her up a pink-carpeted staircase, then into a room with a massage table, an armoire topped with sex toys and a photo of a little girl pulling her underwear off.
Epstein entered the room, wearing only a towel, Mary said.
"He took off the towel," Mary told Pagan. "He was a really built guy. But his wee-wee was very tiny."
Mary said Epstein got on the table and barked orders at her. She told police she was alone in the room with him, terrified.
Pagan wrote the following in her incident report:
"She removed her pants, leaving her thong panties on. She straddled his back, whereby her exposed buttocks were touching Epstein's exposed buttocks. Epstein then turned to his side and started to rub his penis in an up-and-down motion. Epstein pulled out a purple vibrator and began to massage Mary's vaginal area."
Palm Beach assigned six more detectives to the investigation. They conducted a "trash pull" of Epstein's garbage, sifting through paper with phone numbers, used condoms, toothbrushes, worn underwear. In one pull, police found a piece of paper with Mary's phone number on it, along with the number of the person who recruited her.
On Sept. 11, 2005, detectives got another break. Alison, as she's called in the book, told Detective Joe Recarey that she had been going to Epstein's house since she was 16. Alison had been working at the Wellington Green Mall, saving up for a trip to Maine, when a friend told her, "You can get a plane ticket in two hours . . . We can go give this guy a massage and he'll pay $200," according to her statement to the police.
Alison told Recarey that she visited Epstein hundreds of times. She said he had bought her a new 2005 Dodge Neon, plane tickets, and gave her spending money. Alison said he even asked her to emancipate from her parents so she could live with him full-time as his "sex slave."
She said Epstein slowly escalated his sexual requests, and despite Alison's insistence that they never have intercourse, alleged, "This one time . . . he bent me over the table and put himself in me. Without my permission."
Alison then asked if what Epstein had done to her was rape and spoke of her abject fear of him.
An abridged version of her witness statement, as recounted in the book:
Alison : Before I say anything else . . . um, is there a possibility that I'm gonna have to go to court or anything?
Recarey : I mean, what he did to you is a crime. I'm not gonna lie to you.
Alison : Would you consider it rape, what he did?
Recarey : If he put himself inside you without permission . . . That, that is a crime. That is a crime.
Alison : I don't want my family to find out about this . . . 'Cause Jeffrey's gonna get me. You guys realize that, right? . . . I'm not safe now. I'm not safe.
Recarey : Why do you say you're not safe? Has he said he's hurt people before?
Alison : Well, I've heard him make threats to people on the telephone, yeah. Of course.
Recarey : You're gonna die? You're gonna break your legs? Or --
Alison : All of the above!
Alison also told Recarey that Epstein got so violent with her that he ripped out her hair and threw her around. "I mean," she said, "there's been nights that I walked out of there barely able to walk, um, from him being so rough."
Two months later, Recarey interviewed Epstein's former house manager of 11 years, documented in his probable-cause affidavit as Mr. Alessi. "Alessi stated Epstein receives three massages a day . . . towards the end of his employment, the masseuses . . . appeared to be 16 or 17 years of age at the most . . . [Alessi] would have to wash off a massager/vibrator and a long rubber penis, which were in the sink after the massage."
Another house manager, Alfredo Rodriguez, told Recarey that very young girls were giving Epstein massages at least twice a day, and in one instance, Epstein had Rodriguez deliver one dozen roses to Mary, at her high school.
In May 2006, the Palm Beach Police Department filed a probable-cause affidavit, asking prosecutors to charge Epstein with four counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor -- a second-degree felony -- and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation of a 14-year-old minor, also a second-degree felony.
Today, Jeffrey Epstein is a free man, albeit one who routinely settles civil lawsuits against him, brought by young women, out of court.
Palm Beach prosecutors said the evidence was weak, and after presenting the case to a grand jury, Epstein was charged with only one count of felony solicitation of prostitution. In 2008, he pleaded guilty and nominally served 13 months of an 18-month sentence in a county jail: Epstein spent one day a week there, the other six out on "work release."
Today, Jeffrey Epstein is a free man, albeit one who routinely settles civil lawsuits against him, brought by young women, out of court. As of 2015, Epstein had settled multiple such cases.
Giuffre has sued Ghislaine Maxwell in Manhattan federal court, charging defamation -- saying Maxwell stated Giuffre lied about Maxwell's recruitment of her and other underage girls. Epstein has been called upon to testify in court this month, on Oct. 20.
The true number of Epstein's victims may never be known.
He will be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life, not that it fazes him. "I'm not a sexual predator, I'm an 'offender,' " Epstein told The Post in 2011. "It's the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel."
Mar 19, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
rc, March 18, 2019 at 4:01 pm
Elizabeth Warren had a good speech at UC-Berkeley. She focused on the middle class family balance sheet and risk shifting. Regulatory policies and a credit based monetary system have resulted in massive real price increases in inelastic areas of demand such as healthcare, education and housing eroding purchasing power.
Further, trade policies have put U.S. manufacturing at a massive disadvantage to the likes of China, which has subsidized state-owned enterprises, has essentially slave labor costs and low to no environmental regulations. Unrestrained immigration policies have resulted in a massive supply wave of semi- and unskilled labor suppressing wages.
Recommended initial steps to reform:
1. Change the monetary system-deleverage economy with the Chicago Plan (100% reserve banking) and fund massive infrastructure lowering total factor costs and increasing productivity. This would eliminate
2. Adopt a healthcare system that drives HC to 10% to 12% of GDP. France's maybe? Medicare model needs serious reform but is great at low admin costs.
3. Raise tariffs across the board or enact labor and environmental tariffs on the likes of China and other Asian export model countries.
4. Take savings from healthcare costs and interest and invest in human capital–educational attainment and apprenticeships programs.
5. Enforce border security restricting future immigration dramatically and let economy absorb labor supply over time.
Video of UC-B lecture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akVL7QY0S8A&feature=youtu.be
Jerry B, March 18, 2019 at 5:26 pm
As I have said in other comments, I like Liz Warren a lot within the limits of what she is good at doing (i.e. not President) such as Secretary of the Treasury etc. And I think she likes the media spotlight and to hear herself talk a little to much, but all quibbling aside, can we clone her??? The above comment and video just reinforce "Stick to what you are really good at Liz!".
I am not a Liz Warren fan boi to the extent Lambert is of AOC, but it seems that most of the time when I hear Warren, Sanders, or AOC say something my first reaction is "Yes, what she/he said!".
Mar 17, 2019 | angrybearblog.comPolitics Taxes/regulation I just had an unusual experience. I was convinced by an op-ed. One third of the way through "Elizabeth Warren Actually Wants to Fix Capitalism" by David Leonhardt, I was planning to contest one of Leonhard's assertions. Now I am convinced.
The column praises Elizabeth Warren. Leonhardt (like his colleague Paul Krugman) is careful to refrain from declaring his intention to vote for her in the primary. I am planning to vote for her. I mostly agreed with the column to begin with, but was not convinced by Leonard's praise of Warren's emphasis on aiming for more equal pre-fiscal distribution of income rather than just relying on taxes and transfers to redistribute.
In particular, I was not convinced by
This history suggests that the Democratic Party's economic agenda needs to become more ambitious. Modest changes in the top marginal tax rate or in middle-class tax credits aren't enough. The country needs an economic policy that measures up to the scale of our challenges.
Here two issues are combined. One is modest vs major changes. The other is that predistribution is needed in addition to redistribution, as discussed even more clearly here
"Clinton and Obama focused on boosting growth and redistribution," Gabriel Zucman, a University of California, Berkeley, economist who has advised Warren, says. "Warren is focusing on how pretax income can be made more equal."
The option of a large change in the top marginal tax rate and a large middle class tax credit isn't considered in the op-ed. I think this would be excellent policy which has overwhelming popular support as measured by polls (including the support of a large fraction of self declared Republicans). I note from time to time that, since 1976 both the Democrats who have been elected president campaigned on higher taxes on high incomes and lower taxes on the middle class (and IIRC none of the candidates who lost did).
This is also one of my rare disagreements with Paul Krugman , and, finally one of my rare disagreements with Dean Baker ( link to a book which I haven't read).
After the jump, I will make my usual case. But first, I note Leonardt's excellent argument for why "soak the rich and spread it out thin" isn't a sufficient complete market oriented egalitarian program. It is phrased as a question.
"How can the next president make changes that will endure, rather than be undone by a future president, as both Obama's and Clinton's top-end tax increases were?"
Ahh yes. High taxes on high income and high wealth would solve a lot of problems. But they will be reversed. New programs such as Obamacare or Warren's proposed universal pre-K and subsidized day care will not. Nor will regulatory reforms such as mandatory paid sick leave and mandatory paid family leave. I am convinced that relatively complicated proposals are more politically feasible, not because it is easier to implement them, but because it is very hard to eliminate programs used by large numbers of middle class voters.
I'd note that I had already conceded the advantage of a regulatory approach which relies on the illusion that the costs must be born by the regulated firms. Here I note that fleet fuel economy standards are much more popular than increased gasoline taxes. One is a market oriented approach. The other is one that hides behind the market as consumers don't know that part of the price of a gas guzzler pays the shadow price of reducing fleet average milage.
OK my usual argument after the jump
It is unusual for me to disagree with Baker, Leonhardt, and (especially) Krugman. I am quite sure that the Democratic candidate for president should campaign on higher taxes on the rich and lower taxes for the non-rich.
To be sure, I can see that that isn't the only possible policy improvement. Above, I note the advantages of hiding spending by mandating spending by firms and of creating entitlements which are very hard for the GOP to eliminate. I'd add that we have to do a lot to deal with global warming. Competition policy is needed for market efficiency. I think unions and restrictions on firing without cause have an effect on power relations which is good in addition to the effect on income distribution.
But I don't understand the (mildly) skeptical tone. I will set up and knock down some straw men
1) Total straw -- US voters are ideological conservatives and operational liberals. They reject soaking the rich, class war, and redistribution. To convince them to help the non rich, one has to disguise what one is doing.
This is especially silly, and no one in the discussion argues this (anymore -- people used to argue this). The polls and elections are clear. US voters want higher taxes on high incomes and on the wealthy. Also Congress has gone along -- the effective tax rate on the top 1% was about the same after Obama as before Reagan
2) Extremely high marginal tax rates are bad for the economy. Here this is often conceded, in particular by people arguing for modest increases in the top marginal tax rate. The claim is not supported by actual evidence. In particular the top rate was 70% during the 60s boom.
3) High tax rates cause tax avoidance. This reduces efficiency and also means that they don't generate the naively expected revenue. There is very little evidence that this is a huge issue . In particular there was a huge increase in tax sheltering after the 1981 Kemp-Roth tax cuts and reforms. It is possible to design a tax code which makes avoidance difficult (as shown by the 1986 Kemp-Bradley tax reform). It is very hard to implement such a code without campaigning on soaking the rich and promoting class uh struggle.
4) More generally, redistribution does not work -- the post tax income distribution is not equalized because the rich find a way. This is super straw again. All the international and time series evidence points the other way.
I don't see a political or policy argument against a large increase in taxes on high incomes (70% bracket starting at $400,000 a year) used to finance a large expansion of the EITC (so most households receive it).
I think a problem is that a simple solution does not please nerds. I think another is that a large fraction of the elite would pay the high taxes and it is easier to trick them into trying to make corporations pay the costs.
But I really don't understand.
Denis Drew , March 17, 2019 3:51 pmBert Schlitz , March 17, 2019 10:14 pm
First, whenever anybody (that I hear or read) talks about what to do with the revenue from higher taxes on the rich, they always suggest this or that government program (education, medical, housing). I always think of putting more money back in the pockets of my middle 59% incomes to make up for the higher consumer prices they will have to pay when the bottom 40% get unionized.
Of course the 59% can use that money to pay taxes for said government programs -- money is fungible. But, that re-inserts an important element or dimension or facet which seems perpetually forgotten (would not be in continental Europe or maybe French Canada).
Don't forget: predistribution goal = a reunionized labor market. Don't just look to Europe for redistribution goals -- look at their predistribution too.run75441 , March 18, 2019 6:09 am
Nobody in the 60's that was taxed at a marginal 70% rate paid 70%. The top effective rate was about 32-38%, which was far higher than today, but you get the point. The income tax code was as much control of where investment would take place as much as anything ..Ronald Reagan whined about this for years. Shove it grease ball. There was a reason why.
Redistribution won't work because the system is a debt based ponzi scheme. The US really hasn't grown much since 1980, instead you have had the growth in debt.
You need to get rid of the federal reserve system's banks control of the financial system, which they have had since the 1830's in terms of national control(from Hamilton's Philly, which was the financial epicenter before that) and de Rothschild free since the 1930's(when the bank of de Rothschild ala the Bank of England's reserve currency collapsed). Once we have a debt free currency that is usury free, then you can develop and handle intense changes like ecological problems ala Climate Change, which the modern plutocrats cannot and will not solve.
They have been ramming debt in peoples face since 1950 and since 1980 it has gotten vulgar. They know they are full of shit and can't win a fair game.Robert Waldmann , March 18, 2019 4:47 pm
Would you agree a secure healthcare system without work requirements for those who can not afford healthcare is a form of pre-distribution of income? Today's ACA was only a step in the right direction and is being tampered with by ideologs to limit its reach. It can be improved upon and have a socio-economic impact on people. Over at Medpage where I comment on healthcare, the author makes this comment:
"Investing in improvements in patients' social determinants of health -- non-medical areas such as housing, transportation, and food insecurity -- is another potentially big area, he said. "It's a major opportunity for plans to position around this and make it real. The more plans can address social determinants of health, [the more] plans can become truly organizations dedicated to health as opposed to organizations dedicated to incurring medical costs, and that to me is a bright future and a bright way to position the industry."
Many of the "social determinants of health" are not consciously decided by the patient and are predetermined by income, social status or politics, and education. What is being said in this paragraph makes for nice rhetoric and is mostly unachievable due to the three factors I suggested. And yes, you can make some progress. People can make healthy choices once the pre-determinants to doing so are resolved.
Another factor which was left dangling when Liebermann decided to be an ass is Long Term Healthcare for the elderly and those who are no longer capable. Medicare is only temporary and Medicaid forces one to be destitute. There is a large number of people who are approaching the time when they will need such healthcare till death. We have no plans for this tsunami of people.
The tax break was passed using Reconciliation. In 7-8 years out, there is a planned shift in taxes to be levied on the middle income brackets to insure the continuamce of Trump's tax break for the 100 or so thousand households it was skewed towards. If not rescinding the tax break then it should be fixed so it sunsets as did Bush's tax break due to its budget creating deficit. Someone running for the Pres position should be discussing this and pointing out how Republicans have deliberately undermined the middle income brackets.
We should not limit solutions to just income when there are so many areas we are lacking in today.
Mu $.02.run75441 , March 18, 2019 9:01 pm
I guess I consider food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security old age pensions and disability pensions to be redistribution. My distinction is whether it is tax financed. Providing goods or services as in Medicare and food stamps seems to me basically the same as providing cash as in TANF and old age pensions.
There is also a difference between means tested and age dependent eligiability, but I don't consider it fundamental.
I assert that Medicare (especially plan B) is a kind of welfare basically like TANF and food stamps.
(and look forward to a calm and tranquil discussion of that opinion).
Medicare is 41% funded by general revenues. The rest comes from payroll taxes and beneficiary premiums. Advantage plans cost more than traditional Medicare for providing the same benefits and also extract a premium fee. I do not believe I have been mean to you. I usually question to learn more. I am happy to have your input.
I am writing for Consumer Safety Org on Woman's healthcare this time and also an article on the Swiss struggling to pay for cancer fighting drugs.
I am always looking for input.
Dec 31, 2015 | nakedcapitalism.com
Carolinian December 29, 2015
As Hemingway replied to that alum: "yes, they have more money."
Vatch December 29, 2015 at 11:25 am
Superficially, Hemingway was correct. But on a deeper level, he missed the reality of the heightened sense of entitlement that the very rich possess, as well as the deference that so many people automatically show to them. The rich shouldn't be different in this way, but they are. In some other societies, such entitlement and deference would accrue to senior party members, senior clergymen, or hereditary nobility (who might not have much money at all).
MyLessThanPrimeBeef December 29, 2015 at 11:45 am
"Go with the winner." That is how it works for the alpha male (a chimp, an ape, or a gorilla) for most followers anyway. Some will challenge. If victorious, followers will line up (more go-with-the-winner). If defeated, an outcast.
Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm
Without a doubt Hemingway had a rather catty attitude toward his literary rival, but in this instance I think the debunking is merited. It's quite possible that rich people act the way we would act if we were rich, and that Fitzgerald's tiresome obsession with rich people didn't cut very deep. Hemingway is saying: take away all that money and the behavior would change as well. It's the money (or the power in your example) that makes the difference.
Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 1:58 pm
In my opinion, the fact that if they had less money would change the way they think, does not change the fact that, while they have more money, they think differently, and different rules apply to them.
Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm
Addendum: The fact that an Alpha Chimp would act differently if someone else was the Alpha Chimp does not change the fact that an Alpha Chimp has fundamentally different behavior than the rest of the group.
Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm
Sounds like you are saying the behavior of the rich is different -- not what F. Scott Fitzgerald said.
Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm
"Hemingway is responsible for a famous misquotation of Fitzgerald's. According to Hemingway, a conversation between him and Fitzgerald went:
Fitzgerald: The rich are different than you and me.
Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.
This never actually happened; it is a retelling of an actual encounter between Hemingway and Mary Colum, which went as follows:
Hemingway: I am getting to know the rich.
Colum: I think you'll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money."
Just want to point out that that quote of Hemingways wasn't about Fitzgerald and wasn't even by Hemingway. Anyway I was more attacking the "rich have more money" thing than I was trying to defend Fitzgerald, but I feel Fitzgerald got the basic idea right
craazyman December 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm
I read somewhere, maybe a biography of one of them when I read books like that, that Hemingway actually said it and only said that F. Scott said it.
There are no heroes among famous men. I said that!
giantsquid December 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm
Here's an interesting take on this reputed exchange between Fitzgerald and Hemingway:
"The rich are different" The real story behind the famed "exchange" between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.
Apparently Fitzgerald was referring specifically to the attitudes of those who are born rich, attitudes that Fitzgerald thought remained unaltered by events, including the loss of economic status.
"They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."
Hemingway suggested that Fitzgerald had once been especially enamored of the rich, seeing them as a "special glamorous race" but ultimately became disillusioned.
"He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren't it wrecked him as much as any other thing that wrecked him."
Mar 14, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
When President Donald Trump announced in December that he wanted an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, there was more silence and opposition from the Left than approval. The 2016 election's highest-profile progressive, Senator Bernie Sanders, said virtually nothing at the time. The 2018 midterm election's Left celeb, former congressman Beto O'Rourke, kept mum too. The 2004 liberal hero, Howard Dean, came out against troop withdrawals, saying they would damage women's rights in Afghanistan.
The liberal news outlet on which Warren made her statement, MSNBC, which had already been sounding more like Fox News circa 2003, warned that withdrawal from Syria could hurt national security. The left-leaning news channel has even made common cause with Bill Kristol and other neoconservatives in its shared opposition to all things Trump.
Maddow herself has not only vocally opposed the president's decision, but has become arguably more popular than ever with liberal viewers by peddling wild-eyed anti-Trump conspiracy theories worthy of Alex Jones. Reacting to one of her cockamamie theories, progressive journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted , "She is Glenn Beck standing at the chalkboard. Liberals celebrate her (relatively) high ratings as proof that she's right, but Beck himself proved that nothing produces higher cable ratings than feeding deranged partisans unhinged conspiracy theories that flatter their beliefs."
The Trump derangement that has so enveloped the Left on everything, including foreign policy, is precisely what makes Democratic presidential candidate Warren's Syria withdrawal position so noteworthy. One can safely assume that Sanders, O'Rourke, Dean, MSNBC, Maddow, and many of their fellow progressive travelers' silence on or resistance to troop withdrawal is simply them gauging what their liberal audiences currently want or will accept.
Warren could have easily gone either way, succumbing to the emotive demands of the Never Trump mob. She instead opted to stick to the traditional progressive position on undeclared war, even if it meant siding with the president.
... ... ...
Jack Hunter is the former political editor of Rare.us and co-authored the 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington with Senator Rand Paul.
WorkingClass March 13, 2019 at 10:36 pmOnly a crushing defeat and massive casualties on the battlefield will cause ANY change in foreign policy by either party.PAX , says: March 13, 2019 at 10:45 pmThe antiwar movement is not a "liberal" movement. Hundreds of mainly your people addressed the San Francisco board of supervisors asking them to condemn an Israeli full-fledged attack on Gaza. When they were finished, without objection from one single supervisor, the issued was tabled and let sink permanently in the Bay, never to be heard of again. Had the situation been reversed and Israel under attack there most probably would have been a resolution in nanoseconds. Maybe even half the board volunteering to join the IDF? People believed Trump would act more objectively. That is why he got a lot of peace votes. What AIPAC wants there is a high probability our liberal politicians will oblige quickly and willingly. Who really represents America remains a mystery?Donald , says: March 13, 2019 at 11:40 pm"That abiding hatred will continue to play an outsized and often illogical role in determining what most Democrats believe about foreign policy."polistra , says: March 14, 2019 at 2:18 am
True, but the prowar tendency with mainstream liberals ( think Clintonites) is older than that. The antiwar movement among mainstream liberals died the instant Obama entered the White House. And even before that Clinton and Kerry and others supported the Iraq War. I think this goes all the way back to Gulf War I, and possibly further. Democrats were still mostly antiwar to some degree after Vietnam and they also opposed Reagan's proxy wars in Central America and Angola. Some opposed the Gulf War, but it seemed a big success at the time and so it became centrist and smart to kick the Vietnam War syndrome and be prowar. Bill Clinton has his little war in Serbia, which was seen as a success and so being prowar became the centrist Dem position. Obama was careful to say he wasn't antiwar, just against dumb wars. Gore opposed going into Iraq, but on technocratic grounds.
And in popular culture, in the West Wing the liberal fantasy President was bombing an imaginary Mideast terrorist country. Showed he was a tough guy, but measured, unlike some of the even more warlike fictitious Republicans in that show. I remember Toby Ziegler, one of the main characters, ranting to his pro diplomacy wife that we needed to go in and civilize those crazy Muslims.
So it isn't just an illogical overreaction to Trump, though that is part of it.Won't happen. Gabbard is solid and sincere but she's not Hillary so she won't be the candidate. Hillary is the candidate forever. If Hillary is too drunk to stand up, or too obviously dead, Kamala will serve as Hillary's regent.ked_x , says: March 14, 2019 at 2:48 amThe problem isn't THAT Trump is pulling the troops out of Syria. The problem is HOW Trump is pulling the troops out of Syria. The Left isn't fighting about 'keeping troops indefinitely in Syria' vs pulling troops out of Syria'. Its a fight over 'pulling troops out in a way that makes it so that we don't have to go back in like Obama and Iraq' vs 'backing the reckless pull out Trump is going to do'.Kasoy , says: March 14, 2019 at 3:42 amWill Democrats go full hawk?Connecticut Farmer , says: March 14, 2019 at 8:47 am
For Democrats, everything depends on what the polls say, which issues seem important to get elected. They will say anything, no matter how irrational & outrageously insane if the polls say Democrat voters like them. If American involvement in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan are less important according to the polls, Democratic 2020 hopefuls will not bother to focus on it.
For True Christian conservatives, everything depends on how issues line up to God's laws. Polls do not change what is morally right, & what is morally evil."I am glad Donald Trump is withdrawing troops from Syria. Congress never authorized the intervention."M. Orban , says: March 14, 2019 at 9:35 am
Bravo Congressman Khanna. And to those progs who share his sympathies with those of us who have consistently opposed US military adventurism. Howard Dean's comments that American troops should take a bullet in support of "women's rights" in Afghanistan (!) only underscores why he serves as comic relief and really should consider wearing tassels and bells.Having grown up under communism, I learned that it is dangerous but inevitable that propagandists eventually come to believe their own fabrications.Argon , says: March 14, 2019 at 11:23 amKasoy: "For True Christian conservatives, everything depends on how issues line up to God's laws. Polls do not change what is morally right, & what is morally evil."Dave , says: March 14, 2019 at 12:53 pm
I think that needs the trademark symbol, i.e True Christians™
What do True Scotsmen do?Recent suggests that more Christian Identity Politics will not keep us out of unwise wars.Dave , says: March 14, 2019 at 1:19 pmThe Second Coming of Jack Hunter. Given his well-documented views on race, it's no surprise he's all in on Trump. That surely outweighs Trump's massive spending and corruption that most true libertarians oppose.EarlyBird , says: March 14, 2019 at 3:04 pmTrump – and Bernie – put their fingers on the electoral zeitgeist in 2016: the oligarchy is out of control, its servants in Washington have turned their backs on the middle class, and we need to stop getting into stupid, needless wars.Erin , says: March 14, 2019 at 3:11 pm
Of course, the left would come out against puppies and sunshine if Trump came out for those things.
But if they are smart, they'd recognize that on war, or his lack of interest in starting new wars, even the broken Trump clock has been right twice a day.The flip side of this phenomenon is that so many Republican voters supported Trump's withdrawal from Syria. Had it been Obama withdrawing the troops, I suspect 80-90% of Republicans would have opposed the withdrawal.Andrew , says: March 14, 2019 at 5:14 pm
This does show that Republicans are listening to Trump more than Lindsey Graham or Marco Rubio on foreign policy. But once Trump leaves office, I fear the party will swing back towards the neocons."Principles", LOL? What principles? When have Democrats ever not campaigned on a "bring them home, no torture, etc" peace platform and then governed on a deep state neocon foreign policy, with entitlements to drone anyone on earth in Obama's case? At least horrible neocon Republicans are honest enough to say what they believe when they run.Mark Thomason , says: March 15, 2019 at 11:23 am
Dopey Trump campaigned on something different and has now surrounded himself with GOP hawks, probably because he's lazy and doesn't know any better.
Bernie, much like Ron Paul was, 180 degrees away, is the only one who might do different if he got into office, and the rate the left is going he may very well be the nominee.Hillary was full hawk. It was Trump who said he was less hawkish. Yeah, he hasn't lived up to that either. But Democrats can't go hawkish in response. They already were the hawks.
The least bad comment on Democrats is that everyone in DC is a hawk, not just them.
Mar 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
"Three companies have vast power over our economy and our democracy. Facebook, Amazon, and Google," read the ads which began to run on Friday, According to Politico . "We all use them. But in their rise to power, they've bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field in their favor."
As these companies have grown larger and more powerful, they have used their resources and control over the way we use the Internet to squash small businesses and innovation , and substitute their own financial interests for the broader interests of the American people. To restore the balance of power in our democracy, to promote competition, and to ensure that the next generation of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last, it's time to break up our biggest tech companies. -Elizabeth Warren
Facebook confirmed with Politico that the ads had been taken down and said said the company is reviewing the matter. "The person said, according to an initial review, that the removal could be linked to the company's policies about using Facebook's brand in posts ."Around a dozen other ads placed by Warren were not affected.
Mar 11, 2019 | www.collective-evolution.com
Pedophilia has come up in the mainstream a lot lately, as PizzaGate came to light fairly recently and more and more pedophile rings are being exposed, some of which have involved government officials.
If you're unfamiliar with PizzaGate, it refers to a wide range of email correspondence leaked from the DNC that allegedly unearthed a high-level elitist global pedophile ring in which the U.S. government was involved.
It emerged when Wikileaks released tens of thousands of emails from the former White House Chief of Staff under Bill Clinton, John Podesta, who also served as Hillary Clinton's campaign manager. It's because of these emails that many claimed John Podesta was a part of these child trafficking rings as well.
Since then, conspiracy theorists and world renowned journalists alike have been looking into the topic and speculating how big this problem could be and who could be involved within these underground rings.
For example, award winning American journalist Ben Swann explained the Pizzagate controversy in detail on mainstream news:
Not long after, Swann's entire online personal brand and accounts had all but vanished from the internet. Why?
More recently, there's been some speculation that these pedophile rings could stretch into pop culture, potentially involving more pedophilia scandals and symbolism within the media. The question here is: Is there any tangible evidence of all of this, or is it mere speculation?Pedophilia Symbolism
I'd like to begin by identifying the symbols that are used by pedophiles to identify themselves and make their requests within underground networks. Here is a link to a declassified FBI document illustrating the symbols and images used by pedophiles to "identify their sexual preferences."
So, how do these images relate to pizza? First of all, before PizzaGate was even suggested, "cheese pizza" was used as a code word to discuss "child porn" (hint: it's the same initials, CP). A quick Google search will reveal that the market for underage sex workers is fairly substantial, and you can even see a 2015 post on Urban Dictionary that explains how "cheese pizza" is used as code for child porn.
As per PizzaGate and the symbolism, it all started when multiple emails involving John Podesta, his brother, and Hillary Clinton simply didn't add up. Strange wording discussing pizza and cheese left readers confused, and because the emails made so little sense, it led many to suspect that they were code for something else.
For example, this email addressed to John Podesta reads: "The realtor found a handkerchief (I think it has a map that seems pizza-related)," and this email sent from John Podesta asks: "Do you think I'll do better playing dominos on cheese than on pasta?" There are many more examples, and I encourage you to go through the Wikileaks vault to explore.
On top of that, the DNC was associated with two pizza places, Comet Ping Pong and Besta Pizza, which use very clear symbols of pedophilia in their advertising and have strange images of children and other ritualistic type images and suspicious videos on their social media accounts – which has since been made private given the controversy over the images and their link to the DNC, but again, a quick Google search will show you what those images looked like. You can read the email correspondence between John Podesta and Comet Ping Pong's owner, James Alefantis, here .
... ... ...
Mar 11, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com
Alphabet Inc. Chief Executive Officer Larry Page didn't get board approval when he awarded a $150 million stock grant to Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile software who was under investigation by the company for sexual harassment at the time, according to a lawsuit.
Page later got "rubber stamp" approval for the equity compensation package from a board leadership committee eight days after he granted it in August 2014, according to a revised investor complaint made public on Monday in California state court in San Jose. Rubin used the grant as "leverage" to secure a $90 million severance agreement when he left the company almost three months later, according to the complaint.
The new allegations shed light on Page's power to compensate top executives and could add fuel to criticism that the company's board isn't strong enough to keep management accountable to shareholders. It could also pull Page deeper into the controversy around how Google has handled sexual harassment complaints. The Alphabet co-founder has generally stayed behind the scenes, while Google CEO Sundar Pichai has been left to deal with criticism of the company's culture.
Investors claim the board failed in its duties by allowing harassment to occur, approving big payouts and keeping the details private. The complaint targets the company's top executives and committee members, including co-founder Sergey Brin , venture capitalist John Doerr, investor Ram Shriram and Alphabet Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, among others.
"It's confirmation of the fact that there were these large payouts" to Google executives and that the company's "own internal investigation had shown there was misconduct and harassment," Louise Renne, a lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, said Monday by phone.
"Nonetheless, rather than being just being terminated, they were terminated with hefty reimbursement and gifts," Renne said.
A lawyer for Rubin said the complaint mischaracterizes his departure from Google.
"Andy acknowledges having had a consensual relationship with a Google employee," attorney Ellen Stross said in an email. "However, Andy strongly denies any misconduct, and we look forward to telling his story in court."
Google Board Sued for Hushing Claims of Executive Misconduct
The $90 million severance package was first detailed by the New York Times in October 2018, and sparked a firestorm of criticism from both inside and outside the company. Soon after, thousands of Google employees walked out to protest how the company handles sexual harassment complaints. Since then, Google has changed its policies, including ending the practice of barring employees from suing the company and shunting them into private arbitration. People fired for sexual harassment haven't gotten severance payments in the past two years, Google has said.
"There are serious consequences for anyone who behaves inappropriately at Google," a spokeswoman for Google said in an emailed statement. "In recent years, we've made many changes to our workplace and taken an increasingly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority."
Alphabet initially required shareholders' lawyers to conceal information in the complaint about the $150 million stock award to Rubin, on grounds it was confidential, according to Renne. Alphabet then rescinded its demand. Google declined to comment on that decision.
"My hope is this is a step toward transparency," Renne said, referring to Alphabet's decision to not fight the information being unsealed. "The reason we brought this shareholder lawsuit was to have some transparency governing corporate affairs, as well as the behavior being completely inappropriate conduct toward women," she said.
One allegation unsealed Monday is that Amit Singhal, a top Google executive who left the company in 2016, was allowed to resign after accusations that he sexually harassed a female employee were found credible and he was given an exit package worth between $35 million and $45 million. Singhal would go on to work for Uber Technologies Inc., but resigned from the ride-hailing company after Recode reported that he hadn't told Uber about the reasons he left Google. Singhal, who has denied the harassment claims, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The case is Martin v. Page, 19-cv-343672, California Superior Court, Santa Clara County (San Jose).
-- With assistance by Kartikay Mehrotra
Mar 09, 2019 | www.bloomberg.comOn Friday she called for legislation that would designate large technology companies as "platform utilities," and for the appointment of regulators who'd unwind technology mergers that undermine competition and harm innovation and small businesses.
"The idea behind this is for the people in this room," for tech entrepreneurs who want to try out "that new idea," Warren told a packed and enthusiastic crowd. "We want to keep that marketplace competitive and not let a giant who has an incredible competitive advantage snuff that out."
Warren said venture capital "in this area" has dropped by about 20 percent because of a perceived uneven playing field. She didn't provide more detail or say where she obtained her figures.
Mar 09, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com
Elizabeth Warren's proposal to break up "Big Tech" companies is sure to stoke debate and add to the tension between the Democratic Party and reliably Democratic Silicon Valley. While breaking up Big Tech isn't likely to happen anytime soon, one nuance in her proposal is worth thinking about, and that's whether tech companies that operate large marketplaces should also be able to participate in said marketplaces.
The most obvious impact this would have would be on Amazon. While in the universe of the American retail industry Amazon's market share remains in the single digits, in e-commerce it's got around 50 percent market share . When consumers shop on Amazon, they're presented with items sold by Amazon, and also items that Amazon doesn't own or warehouse but merely hosts the listings. It's also increasingly getting into the advertising business, so that when you're searching you'll be presented with a list of sponsored products in addition to whatever results a search may generate.
A third-party seller on Amazon has a difficult relationship with Amazon, which can act both as partner and competitor. Amazon can use its huge data sets to see how successful third-party sellers and products are, and if they meet a certain profitability threshold Amazon can decide to compete with that third-party seller directly.
Someone might say, isn't that what grocery stores or Costco do with private label goods or Costco's Kirkland brand? But the difference is that in physical retail, there are all sorts of stores where a producer can sell their products -- Walmart, Target, Costco, major grocery chains, and so on. In e-commerce, with half the market share, Amazon has a dominant position. While in the short run Amazon being able to compete with its third-party sellers may be good for consumers, who can end up with lower prices, in the long run it may mean fewer producers even bother to come up with new products, feeling that eventually Amazon will crowd them out of the marketplace.
Would restricting Amazon, which has grown so quickly and is popular with consumers, harm the economy? Government's antitrust fight with Microsoft a generation ago ended up paying dividends for innovation. In the 2000s a common critique of Microsoft was that it "missed" the internet, and smartphones, and social media, but to some extent that may have been because the company feared an expansion in emerging technologies would bring back more scrutiny from the government. As a result, new tech platforms and companies bloomed. The same could happen in the next decade if Amazon's ambitions were reined in a little.
"Break up Big Tech" is an easy emotional hook, but hopefully Warren's proposal will get all Americans to think more about the power of tech companies and their platforms, and whether regulatory changes would best serve both consumers and producers.
Feb 26, 2016 | www.weeklystandard.com
In a recent issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Matt Labash highlighted the sad story of Trump University, one of the Donald's biggest failures. Here's an excerpt:But most egregious was Trump University, a purported real estate school that attracted the attention of New York's attorney general, who brought a $40 million suit on behalf of 5,000 people. The New York Times described Trump U as "a bait-and-switch scheme," with students lured "by free sessions, then offered packages ranging from $10,000 to $35,000 for sham courses that were supposed to teach them how to become successful real estate investors." Though Trump himself was largely absentee, one advertisement featured him proclaiming, "Just copy exactly what I've done and get rich." While some students were hoping to glean wisdom directly from the success oracle, there was no such luck. At one seminar, attendees were told they'd get to have their picture taken with Trump. Instead, they ended up getting snapped with his cardboard cutout. What must have been a crushing disappointment to aspiring real estate barons is a boon to Republican-primary metaphor hunters.
Read the whole article here , which documents Trump at his Trumpiest, from his penchant for cheating at golf to his sensitivity to being called a "short-fingered vulgarian."Michael Warren is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.
Mar 05, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
David Cay Johnston on the Crony Capitalism, and Part 2 on Plans for Funding For Your Old Age
"A pension is not a 'gratuity.' A pension is wages you could have taken in cash, but prudently and conservatively set aside for your old age. It's your money. If your employer, for every pay period, does not set aside and designate it to go into a pension plan, your employer is stealing from you. The way to get this is to require pay stubs to itemize the amount of money that has been contributed to your pension plan."
David Cay Johnston
"Capitalism is at risk of failing today not because we are running out of innovations, or because markets are failing to inspire private actions, but because we've lost sight of the operational failings of unfettered gluttony. We are neglecting a torrent of market failures in infrastructure, finance, and the environment. We are turning our backs on a grotesque worsening of income inequality and willfully continuing to slash social benefits. We are destroying the Earth as if we are indeed the last generation."
"We are coming apart as a society, and inequality is right at the core of that. When the 90 percent are getting worse off and they're trying to figure out what happened, they're not people like me who get to spend four or five hours a day studying these things and then writing about them -- they're people who have to make a living and get through life. And they're going to be swayed by demagogues and filled with fear about the other, rather than bringing us together.
President Theodore Roosevelt said we shall all rise together or we shall all fall together, and we need to have an appreciation of that.
I think it would be easy for someone to arrive in the near future and really create forces that would lead to trouble in this country. And you see people who, they're not the leaders to pull it off, but we have suggestions that the president should be killed, that he's not an American, that Texas can secede, that states can ignore federal law, and these are things that don't lack for antecedents in America history but they're clearly on the rise.
In addition to that, we have this large, very well-funded news organization that is premised on misconstruing facts and telling lies, Faux News that is creating, in a large segment of the population -- somewhere around one-fifth and one-fourth of it -- belief in all sorts of things that are detrimental to our well-being.
So, no, I don't see this happening tomorrow, but I have said for many years that if we don't get a handle on this then one of these days our descendants are going to sit down in high-school history class and open a textbook that begins with the words: The United States of America was and then it will dissect how our experiment in self-governance came apart."
David Cay Johnston, May 2014
Posted by Jesse at 10:17 AM Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest Category: Crony Capitalism , social security , Stealing Social Security Older Posts
Mar 05, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com
Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) is expected to introduce a new tax bill today. The senator says his bill would tax the sale of stocks, bonds and derivatives at a 0.1 rate. It would apply to any transaction in the United States. The senator says his proposal would clamp down on speculation and some high frequency trading that artificially creates more market volatility.
Mar 04, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com
Jen March 1, 2019 at 12:09 pmI was expecting that if a Western invasion of Venezuela were to go ahead, that Brazil and Colombia would decline to commit troops, the US would be overstretched, and Canada would take the lead in organising an invasion force.yalensis March 1, 2019 at 12:48 pm
But I have just heard that Justin Bieber Turdeau is facing calls to resign after former federal attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould testified that she'd been pressured to drop bribery charges against SNC-Lavalin by government officials (of whom some were from the Prime Minister's Office) wanting her to apply deferred prosecution (by which SNC-Lavalin would merely pay a fine). The charges against SNC-Lavalin involve former company executives making illegal donations to the Liberal Party from 2004 to 2011. SNC-Lavalin also paid huge bribes to Libyan govt officials to secure contracts in Libya and has been shut out of contracts by the World Bank for corrupt practices in Bangladesh.
The company has its head office in Quebec (which the Liberal Party needs to hold to win the general election in October this year) and employs some 3,400 people in the province.
If JWR's allegations that Turdeau pressured her, directly or indirectly, then he could be charged with obstructing the course of justice. Deferred prosecution itself is recent legislation introduced by the Turdeau government and SNC-Lavalin had lobbied for it.
Looks like Canada will be too busy dealing with the Turdeau govt's own corruption instead of Maduro.
The silver lining is that Chrystia Freeland has said she supports JBT 100%, although with her record of telling the truth one can never be too sure and she might not be willing to go down with him if he has to resign.Holy Corruption, Batman! Could this be the end of the Boy Wonder?Mark Chapman March 1, 2019 at 5:28 pmThat will teach me a lesson; I just lost a very lengthily-developed comment because I was typing too fast, and accidentally hit the wrong combination of keys. Therefore, this one will evolve in the form of saves and updates.
Yes, he's in serious trouble. Wilson-Raybould was one of his big success stories, the first aboriginal woman to be appointed Justice Minister. She's also a lawyer, and kept detailed records of who said what to her when. After the SNC-Lavalin affair broke and following her obviously-unsatisfactory performance in refusing to keep things on the down-low so they would be allowed to settle out of court and probably just pay a fine, she was removed from her position in a cabinet shuffle, and given Veterans Affairs.
She pissed off Veterans with her obvious discontent with her new portfolio, as if it is unworthy of her talents, and there is a substantial question why she did not immediately resign as soon as she was pressured to do something she obviously knew was at least unethical if not illegal. But otherwise she seems to have all her ducks in a row, and it is going to be very difficult for the Trudeau government to attack her position.
They're not too busy to proceed with the extradition of Meng Wanzhou, though, I see.
This is not necessarily the end of the line, and is just a hearing, not a trial. Nonetheless, it moves the decision into ministerial territory, and the higher you go in the Canadian government, the more people you meet who like to lick the US government's shoes, and would no more tell it "No" than they would come to work with no pants on. More ominously, the Canadian Justice Department claims to have thoroughly reviewed the US charges, and consider them satisfactorily supported to proceed.
Extremely curious timing, as there was just a story in today's National Post which mostly scoffed at the American inveigling against Huawei, referring to it as 'exaggerated', and even having the temerity to point out the USA has actually done what it accuses China of doing, while China has not been caught – ever – inserting 'backdoors' in any of its software. The USA built backdoors into equipment made by Cisco Systems, and then shipped it around the world, which is why China banned it.
Predictably, after London declined to ban Huawei outright, saying the risk could be 'managed' – a terrific blow to the American argument – other countries with less backbone, Canada among them, claim to have been of the same mind.
Curiously, as well, the original reference points out that the charges against Meng, which the Minister deems substantial enough to proceed with the extradition hearing, relate to matters which are not offenses in Canada. That struck a chord with me, because I remember that when William Browder was detained in Spain on a Russian Interpol warrant, the official reason Spain gave for letting him go was that the matters on which he was ordered held were not crimes in Spain.
Unofficially, as revealed by Browder himself, the Interpol General Secretary in Lyon advised the Spanish government not to honour the Russian warrant. Yet when the EU demands that Russia release Khodorkovsky, or Navalny or whatever prominent 'Kremlin critic' is in jail at the moment, they expect Russia to jump right the fuck to it.
Mar 04, 2019 | www.washingtonexaminer.com
...Her prescription also includes some great ideas. She would bar congressmen and Cabinet secretaries from owning individual stocks (a measure we proposed in 2011 ) and apply conflict of interest laws to the president and vice president. Both would be good regulations of our politicians, mitigating temptations to corruption.
[ Also read: Elizabeth Warren doesn't mind taking money from lobbyists (so long as they're local) ]
An extension of the current brief lobbying ban for senators and congressmen also seems prudent and justified. Warren would make it a lifetime ban. She would also require former government officials to disclose their private sector work for four years after they leave the government. These rules can be thought of as conditions for holding positions that involve the public trust. Truly serving the public can mean limiting your post-government employment options.
Some of her other ideas are well-intentioned but nonsensical. Warren wants to expand the definition of "lobbyist" to "include all individuals paid to influence the government."
Nov 11, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.comallan November 10, 2016 at 2:35 pmChauncey Gardiner November 10, 2016 at 3:57 pm
Trump calls for '21st century' Glass-Steagall banking law [Reuters, Oct. 26]
Financial Services [Trump Transition Site, Nov. 10]
Oddly, no mention of Glass-Steagall, only dismantling Dodd-Frank. Who could have predicted?
File under Even Victims Can Be Fools.Dr. Roberts November 10, 2016 at 4:03 pm
Not surprised at all. The election is over, the voters are now moot. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren has famously said with respect to cabinet and other political appointments, "Personnel Is Policy." You can see the outline of the Trump administration's real policies being shaped before our eyes via his proposed cabinet appointees, covered by Politico and other sites.Steve C November 10, 2016 at 4:18 pm
Also no mention of NAFTA or renegotiating trade deals in the new transition agenda. Instead there's just a bunch of vague Chamber of Commercesque language about making America attractive to investors. I think our hopes for a disruptive Trump presidency are quickly being dashed.pretzelattack November 10, 2016 at 5:17 pm
Sanders, Warren and others should hold Trump's feet to the fire on the truly populist things he said and offer to work with him on that stuff. Like preserving Social Security and Medicare and getting out of wars.
As to the last point, appointing Bolton or Corker Secretary of State would be a clear indication he was just talking. A clear violation of campaign promises that would make Obama look like a choirboy. Trump may be W on steroids.Steve C November 10, 2016 at 6:25 pm
sure he may be almost as bad as Clinton on foreign policy. so far he hasn't been rattling a saber at Russia.anti-social socialist November 10, 2016 at 4:23 pm
Newland also is pernicious, but as with many things Trump, not as gaudy as Bolton.Katniss Everdeen November 10, 2016 at 5:38 pm
I can't imagine how he's neglected to update his transition plan regarding nafta. After all, he's already been president-elect for, what, 36 hours now? And he only talked about it umpteen times during the campaign. I'm sure he'll renege.
Hell, it took Clinton 8 hours to give her concession speech.
On the bright side, he managed to kill TPP just by getting elected. Was that quick enough for you?
Mar 04, 2019 | www.washingtonpost.com
BigB249 6 months ago
It is my belief as a student of history that corruption has been a integral part of the United States government from the very start. I offer the careers of founding fathers Robert Morris and James Wilson as evidence. We owe debts of gratitude to these two men for their positive contributions, but their misdeeds are scandalous. Let us not forget the dark compromises over slavery that continue to poison our society or the cynical corruption that allowed the destruction of the civilized tribes of the Southeast and the illegal seizure of their lands.
As a student of economics and a longtime corporate accountant, I propose even more radical reforms than Senator Warren. I believe that we must reform the rights and legal protections of corporations. We must end the fiction of corporation as a "legal person." We must hold corporate officers accountable for criminal activity and truly enforce anti-bribery and other laws. Too often corporations are de facto criminal conspiracies. It will take international cooperation of governments to reign these enterprises in and force them to behave in a socially responsible manner.
XXX 6 months ago
Thank you for this insightful article. Most Americans know that the system is rigged towards the wealthy and big business; however, they don't know exactly how. You have laid out the perfectly legal way that government and business are intertwined to benefit big business and the individual in government calling the shots.
A good example is Medicare Part D, where the legislation precluded CMS negotiating directly with manufacturers for drug prices - a gigantic gift to the pharmaceutical industry. At the time, I worked at a pharma company, and they through a party in relief.
Billy Tauzin, the Congressman from Louisiana, shaped the Medicare Part D legislation, retired from the House, and went to work for the pharmaceutical industry's top lobbying organization for a reported $2 million a year.
Billy and big pharma reaped huge benefits but the American people and our government did not. It is time something is done about our government/business "pork fest", otherwise, as a nation, we will fall from within through sheer unmitigated corruption.
XXX 6 months agoFEC fillings first reported by the Washington Free Beacon show that Warren cashed two checks from Jonathan Lavine, the chief investment officer of Bain Capital, and his wife, Jeannie Lavine, worth $5,400 each. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Bain Capital has spent more than $5.5 million on lobbying in the last decade.XXX 6 months ago
Those same filings show Warren filling her war chest with $1,000 from Daniel O'Connell, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, an organization described by the Boston Globe as "the state's most powerful business group." Warren also took two checks worth $5,400 each from Lawrence Rasky, chair of Massachusetts-based lobbying firm Rasky Baerlein, and Carolyn Rasky, his wife.
When asked whether or not Warren would still accept that money if she had a chance to do it all over again, the senator's office did not return for comment. It seems the senator wants to drain the swamp in Washington so long as she can still get that campaign money from local lobbyists back home.
Philip Wegmann Elizabeth Warren doesn't mind taking money from lobbyists | Washington Examiner | August 21, 2018
Wait a second: you condone lobbying or you are against it? It would seem that the legislative proposal would address, at least, some of the issues plaguing our country. Do you really believe, Ms. Warren cashes the checks? It's an organization...e
Feb 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. -> Sanjait...
Reply Monday, February 20, 2017 at 03:41 PM
""The low-pressure economies of Volcker, late Greenspan, and Bernanke wreaked immense damage."'
It's good to see Democrats make having a high-pressure economy a priority.
Oh wait no.
You and PGL are huge liars.
libezkova -> Sanjait...
There is no need to assume nefarious motives under neoliberalism. They are the essence of the system, especially among the financial oligarchy. Wolf eats wolf and "Greed is good!" is the most typical mentality.
In some way, it is close to the Italian mafia mentality. The mentality of organized mob. They put themselves outside and above the society.
Reply Monday, February 20, 2017 at 05:37 PM
Apr 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Shot: "Obama's $400,000 Wall Street Speech Is Completely In Character" [ HuffPo ].
Chaser: "Ask all the bankers he jailed for fraud."JohnnyGL , April 27, 2017 at 2:25 pmMyLessThanPrimeBeef , April 27, 2017 at 2:41 pm
This just in .Saint Obama is no longer infallible among Dems. Winds of change are blowing. Six months ago, you couldn't get away with saying this kind of thing.curlydan , April 27, 2017 at 3:21 pm
Clinton is down.
Pelosi? For how long?
Only one big Democrat left – Schumer. Very few target him for challenge, yet.jrs , April 27, 2017 at 3:47 pm
He probably said to himself, "What did I make in a year as president? Oh yeah, $400,000. Now that's what I want to make in an hour"David Carl Grimes , April 27, 2017 at 7:46 pm
you gotta pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues, and you know it don't come easyfresno dan , April 27, 2017 at 3:35 pm
Obama's not concerned about optics anymore.
April 27, 2017 at 2:25 pm
"The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Obama will receive the sum - equal to his annual pay as president - for a speech at Cantor Fitzgerald LP's healthcare conference, though there has been no public announcement yet."
Sheer coincidence that what Obama campaigned on and what Obama governed on appear to be influenced by rich people. Physics prevents single payer health care .dark energy, dark matter, dark, dark, money ..
Until a strong majority of dems are ready to say what is patently obvious to anyone even mildly willing to acknowledge reality, i.e., that policy is decided not by a majority of voters, but by a majority of dollars, than there is simply no hope for reform.
Aug 22, 2018 | www.washingtonpost.com
... just as the day was ending, news broke that Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.), an early Trump backer, was indicted for misusing campaign funds for personal expenses big and small, including dental bills and a trip to Italy.
And this sort of behavior isn't even what Warren is targeting.
Warren's bill takes on what is usually termed the legalized corruption, the dirty dealings of Washington. Among other things, the legislation would:
Increase salaries for congressional staffers, so they will be less tempted to "audition" for lobbying jobs while working for government.
Ban the "revolving door" for elected officials expand how lobbying is defined to include anyone who is paid to lobby the federal government as well as halt permitting any American to take money from "foreign governments foreign individuals and foreign companies" for lobbying purposes.
Prohibit elected officials from holding investments in individual stocks require that presidential candidates make their tax returns public
The goal? To make government once again responsive to voters, not the corporations and the wealthy donors responsible for the vast majority of the $3.37 billion spent lobbying Washington in 2017. That money buys results, but only for the people paying the bills. As Warren said:
Corruption has seeped into the fabric of our government, tilting thousands of decisions away from the public good and toward the desires of those at the top. And, over time, bit by bit, like a cancer eating away at our democracy, corruption has eroded Americans' faith in our government.
This is not hyperbole. A 2014 academic study found the U.S. government policy almost always reflected the desires of the donor class over the will of the majority of voters, while a 2016 report by the progressive think tank Demos determined political donors have distinctly different views from most Americans on issues ranging from financial regulation to abortion rights. A tax reform package that showers benefits on corporations and the wealthiest among us? Consider it done. But a crackdown on drug pricing, buttressing of Social Security without cutting benefits, expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, or progress combating global warming, all of which majorities say they want? Not so fast.Sen. Warren (D-Mass.) said on June 5 that she will introduce "sweeping anti-corruption legislation to clean up corporate money sloshing around Washington." (Georgetown Law)
It's not just what laws get passed, but who is held accountable under those laws. No one in a high position went to jail for the financial crisis. Foreclosure fraud on the part of the banks was punished with a slap on the wrist – if that. All too many corporations treat their customers with complete impunity, as scandals ranging from the Equifax hack to Wells Fargo's many misdeeds demonstrate. It feels as if there is no one minding the store -- if you are rich and connected enough, that is.
This behavior leaves us enraged, feeling like outsiders peering in on our own elected government. A Gallup poll found 3 out of 4 voters surveyed described corruption as " widespread throughout the government " -- in 2010. There's a reason Trump's claim he would "drain the swamp" resonated. No one, after all, thought Trump was clean. His stated argument was, in fact, the opposite. He claimed his success a businessman navigating the corrupt U.S. system gave him just the right set of insight and tools to clean up Washington.
We all know now that was just another audacious Trump con. The tax reform package almost certainly benefited his own bottom line, though we don't know that for sure since he has not released his taxes. Andrew Wheeler , the acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is a former lobbyist for the coal industry. Alex Azar , the secretary of Health and Human Services, is a former top executive of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. At the Education Department, the revolving door is alive and well, with former George W. Bush administration officials who went on to work at for-profit institutions of higher education returning to government service to advise Betsy De Vos who is -- surprise! -- cutting the sector multiple breaks.
And all this, under our current laws, is allowed.
To be clear, this is not a matter of Republicans Good, Democrats Bad. As Warren put it on Tuesday, "This problem is far bigger than Trump." An Obama-era attempt to slow the revolving door was riddled with loopholes that allowed the appointment of Wall Street insiders to too many regulatory posts. Subsequently, more than a few Obama appointees have gone on to work for big business as lobbyists.
Corruption, legal or illegal, rots the system from the inside out. In an environment where it seems anything goes, it's not hard to think that, well, anything goes -- like Cohen and Manafort, who almost certainly would have gotten away with their behavior if not for the Mueller investigation, and Hunter, who ignored multiple warnings from his campaign treasurer and instead continued to do such things as pass off the purchase of a pair of shorts as sporting equipment intended for use by "wounded warriors."
There is, of course, no way Warren's bill would clean up this entire festering mess. But healthy democracies need government officials -- elected and unelected -- to behave both ethically and honestly. Warren is putting our governing and business classes on notice. Simply saying the law is on your side isn't good enough. The voters won't stand for that.
Aug 22, 2018 | mondoweiss.net
On Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren addressed the National Press Club , outlining with great specificity a host of proposals on issues including eliminating financial conflicts, close the revolving door between business and government and, perhaps most notably, reforming corporate structures .
Warren gave a blistering attack on corporate power run amok, giving example after example, like Congressman Billy Tauzin doing the pharmaceutical lobby's bidding by preventing a bill for expanded Medicare coverage from allowing the program to negotiate lower drug prices. Noted Warren: "In December of 2003, the very same month the bill was signed into law, PhRMA -- the drug companies' biggest lobbying group -- dangled the possibility that Billy could be their next CEO.
"In February of 2004, Congressman Tauzin announced that he wouldn't seek re-election. Ten months later, he became CEO of PhRMA -- at an annual salary of $2 million. Big Pharma certainly knows how to say 'thank you for your service.'"
But I found that Warren's tenacity when ripping things like corporate lobbyists' "pre-bribes" suddenly evaporated when dealing with issues like the enormous military budget and Israeli assaults on Palestinian children.
... ... ...
Said Warren of her own financial reform proposals: "Inside Washington, some of these proposals will be very unpopular, even with some of my friends. Outside Washington, I expect that most people will see these ideas as no-brainers and be shocked they're not already the law.
Why doesn't the same principle apply to funding perpetual wars and massive human rights abuses against children?
Sam Husseini is an independent journalist, senior analyst at the Institute for Public Accuracy and founder of VotePact .org. Follow him on twitter: @samhusseini
ckgAugust 22, 2018, 10:46 am OpenSecrets shows that Senator Warren has received funds from the pro-Israel PAC Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs for the 2018 election cycle. Among the largest funders of this PAC are billionaire venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker and his wife. At the start of Israel's 2014 massacre in Gaza, the PAC issued a statement in support of Israel.
justAugust 22, 2018, 12:36 pm No surprise there, ckg. I cannot think of anyone in Congress nor in the US cabinet that is not 99-100% in Israel supporters' pockets. Nor can I think of anyone that is diplomatically focused. Nor can I think of anyone that is seriously objecting to the slaughter in Yemen, the ongoing attempt to topple Assad, and the endless war in Afghanistan, etc.
Then there's this: the US and too many others pay/subsidize Israel for the privilege of dictating foreign policy and for their own selfish, ridiculous claims of being 'surrounded by enemies'. A nuclear- armed state (though never inspected nor properly declared) keeps this trope/cliché alive???
How many billions should Americans and others pay to Israel for nothing in return?
https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2018/03/understanding-military-aid-israel-180305092533077.html Log in to Reply
MaghlawatanAugust 23, 2018, 7:10 am Standing up to the Israel lobby now is suicidal. Nobody will risk a career to support a dissident until the dam breaks as it always does.
Power doesn't work linearly. It goes in cycles. Zionism is tied up with money which is a function of the economic system. Warren is playing a long game. She knows the people at the Fed are clueless. She knows there is going to be an awful crash. She knows there will be a new economic system based on the people rather than the elites..
Zionism is living on fumes in DC
Jun 02, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.comYves here. How many ways can you spell "payoff"?
By Joshua Weitz, a research associate at the Academic-Industry Research Network and an incoming graduate student in the PhD program in political science at Brown University
Since leaving office President Obama has drawn widespread criticism for accepting a $400,000 speaking fee from the Wall Street investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald, including from Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Only a few months out of office, the move has been viewed as emblematic of the cozy relationship between the financial sector and political elites.
But as the President's critics have voiced outrage over the decision many have been reluctant to criticize the record-setting $65 million book deal that Barack and Michelle Obama landed jointly this February with Penguin Random House (PRH). Writing in the Washington Post, for example, Ruth Marcus argues that while the Wall Street speech "feels like unfortunate icing on an already distasteful cake," the book deal is little more than the outcome of market forces fueled by consumer demand: "If the market bears $60 million to hear from the Obamas, great."
May 04, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Obama centrists don't have to worry just about Sanders' popularity. Elizabeth Warren, who is increasingly appearing as a plausible presidential candidate for 2020, has also risen as an economic populist critic of the former president.
She has been perfectly willing to challenge Obama by name, saying he was wrong to claim at a commencement address at Rutgers last year that "the system isn't as rigged as you think." "No, President Obama, the system is as rigged as we think," she writes in her new book This Fight Is Our Fight. "In fact, it's worse than most Americans realize." She even went so far as to say she was "troubled" by Obama's willingness to take his six-figure speaking fee from Wall Street. There is indeed a fight brewing, but it's not Obama v. Trump, but Obama v. Warren-Sanders.
And this is where the real difficulty lies for the Democrats. The trouble with the popular and eminently reasonable Sanders-Warren platform-reasonable for all those, Obama and Clinton included, who express dismay over our country's rampaging levels of Gilded Age-style inequality-is that it alienates the donor class that butters the DNC's bread. With Clinton's downfall, and with the popularity of economic populism rising in left circles, Obama has to step in and reassert his more centrist brand of Democratic politics. And what better way to do so than by conspicuously cashing a check from those who would fund said politics?
Mar 04, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
MedicalQuack , , November 15, 2017 at 10:31 am
Oh please, stop quoting Andy Slavitt, the United Healthcare Ingenix algo man. That guy is the biggest crook that made his money early on with RX discounts with his company that he and Senator Warren's daughter, Amelia sold to United Healthcare.
He's out there trying to do his own reputation restore routine. Go back to 2009 and read about the short paying of MDs by Ingenix, which is now Optum Insights, he was the CEO and remember it was just around 3 years ago or so he sat there quarterly with United CEO Hemsley at those quarterly meetings.
Look him up, wants 40k to speak and he puts the perception out there he does this for free, not so.
diptherio , , November 15, 2017 at 11:25 am
I think you're missing the context. Lambert is quoting him by way of showing that the sleazy establishment types are just fine with him. Thanks for the extra background on that particular swamp-dweller, though.
a different chris , , November 15, 2017 at 2:01 pm
Not just the context, it's a quote in a quote. Does make me think Slavitt must be a real piece of work to send MQ so far off his rails
petal , , November 15, 2017 at 12:52 pm
Alex Azar is a Dartmouth grad (Gov't & Economics '88) just like Jeff Immelt (Applied Math & Economics '78). So much damage to society from such a small department!
sgt_doom , , November 15, 2017 at 1:21 pm
Nice one, petal !!!
Really, all I need to know about the Trumpster Administration:
From Rothschild to . . . .
Since 2014, Ross has been the vice-chairman of the board of Bank of Cyprus PCL, the largest bank in Cyprus.
He served under U.S. President Bill Clinton on the board of the U.S.-Russia Investment Fund. Later, under New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Ross served as the Mayor's privatization advisor.